Rybak proposes, but the Minnesota Vikings say no thanks
by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was the State Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 27 hawking possible Minnesota Vikings’ stadium sites in downtown Minneapolis.
Vikings’ team officials indicated they’re not interested in any.
But Rybak argued that the Vikings/Ramsey County Arden Hills’ stadium plan has struggled — no stadium proposal will be met at the Legislature with people waving palm branches, he quipped — and each of the downtown Minneapolis proposed stadiums can be built cheaper than Arden Hills.
“I believe we have the support of the city council for all of these,” Rybak said of the possible stadium sites.
All three city proposals anticipate a $300 million state contribution, plus legislative action to override a Minneapolis’ voter approved $10 million cap placed on city involvement in stadiums.
Beside a huge makeover of the Metrodome — which carries a project cost of $895 million — Minneapolis officials also propose a $1 billion “Minnesota Stadium” on the west side of the downtown at the Farmer’s Market Site near the Twins’ ballpark.
They also propose a third site, the Linden Avenue Site, near the intersection of I-94 and I-394. Like the Farmer’s Market Site, the Linden Avenue stadium proposal would cost slightly over $1 billion.
Minneapolis officials link a $150 million upgrade of the Target Center — one calling for $50 million of private investment — to all the stadium proposals.
One sales pitch Rybak makes on the upgrade is that it would take the facility off the city tax rolls, providing an estimated $7 million in property tax relief a year.
To finance the city’s portion of their stadium proposals, Minneapolis city officials look to a city-wide sales tax increase that would amount to 35 cents on $100 spent, plus a one percent lodging tax.
The city’s second financing option involves a five percent cut of Block E gross gambling revenues through 2020 from a casino proposed for the site.
After 2020, the city’s cut of the action would be reduced to three percent.
The city looks to collect a one-time $20 million gambling license fee.
The sales tax increase, if approved — and Rybak, for one, doesn’t want a referendum — would bring in about $19 million a year, while the lodging tax would garner about $2 million a year.
The sales tax would push the sales tax in Minneapolis to more than 8 percent.
According to a city financial consultant, the casino proposal would bring in more money to the city than the sales tax proposal.
But Rybak appeared at the State Capitol same-day as several Democratic Minneapolis legislators who spoke out against any gambling expansion.
Indeed, they indicated that do not support state finding for stadiums.
Rybak was philosophical, saying any stadium proposal would bring out hard politics. “I respect that,” he said of the opposition.
The mayor indicated that he doesn’t pretend he can deliver legislative votes.
As for the issue of gambling expansion, that issue will decided at the State Capitol, Rybak said.
Although recent media reports suggest the forms of stadium financing Rybak and Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson have proposed for financing a stadium have shaky support on the city council, Rybak was upbeat. “We believe we can get the votes,” he said.
Vikings officials in a statement stated they’re not interested in keeping the team in downtown Minneapolis.
“We respect Mayor Rybak and the city of Minneapolis for trying to find a stadium solution,” said Jeff Anderson, director of corporate communications for the Minnesota Vikings. “However, the Minnesota Vikings have a local partner – Ramsey County – with whom we have negotiated for several months.”
“Arden Hills is the ideal stadium site for the State, the Vikings and our fans,” Anderson said.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders are expected to meet on Friday, Oct. 28 to further discuss the possible special legislative session the governor has proposed for having just before Thanksgiving to address the Vikings’ stadium.