The future home of the Vikings has been revealed – maybe.
On May 9, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson held a press conference at the State Capital to announce plans for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. The proposal calls for a new stadium at the site of the Metrodome and includes funds to renovate the Target Center. Mayor Rybak calls the Metrodome site the only realistic choice for a new Vikings stadium, but the plan’s fate is anything but certain.
At issue is the funding breakdown presented in the plan. Under the $895-million plan, the Vikings’ share is $400 million, the State’s share is $300 million and Minneapolis’ share is $195 million.
No city property taxes would be used for the plan. Instead, the city’s share is generated by an admission tax on stadium events, increased game-day parking fees, taxes that are currently dedicated to paying Convention Center bonds, a city-wide expansion of the Downtown restaurant and liquor taxes and an additional 0.15% in sales tax citywide, the same amount Hennepin County raised to fund its share of Target Field.
Reaction from the Vikings has been mixed at best. Team spokesman Lester Bagley stated that he liked much of the plan, but the $400 million dollar share, which accounts for 45 percent of the cost, is more than the Vikings want to pay. The plan would also require the Vikings to play at TCF Stadium for up to three seasons, which Bagley claims could cost the team up to $40 million in lost revenues. The Vikings are continuing talks with Ramsey County for a possible stadium site in Arden Hills. The potential Arden Hills site is expected to be significantly more expensive than the Metrodome site and require extensive infrastructure upgrades. Governor Dayton said today that the state would not rush to complete the estimated $240 million in infrastructure improvements the Arden Hills site would require.
“This is the only realistic, sustainable, affordable plan to that will keep the Vikings in Minnesota,” said Mayor Rybak. “In the long struggle to find a high-quality home for the Minnesota Vikings and put an end to stadium debates once and for all, today we are announcing a game changer. Our plan is based in the core Minnesota values of building quality and using what you have — and it creates jobs, spurs development and ensures a high-quality experience that will brighten our state’s economic future by secure Minnesota’s place as an entertainment, sports and tourism destination.”
“This plan also builds on the core principle of taking care of what we already have, which has always been a bedrock principle in Minneapolis,” said Council President Johnson. “This plan ensures the financial future of the Convention Center and the Target Center, both of which are powerful economic engines for the entire state, and uses Minneapolis’ economic power to help finance a new, sensible stadium for the Vikings and Minnesota.”
While Rybak has long backed a new Vikings stadium, his support of paying for part of the facility is a reversal of his previous position. On February first, Mayor Rybak told The Journal’s Nick Halter "Until they rename these the Minneapolis Vikings, the city of Minneapolis cannot and should not be paying for it.” However, in his prepared remarks, the Mayor stressed that the benefits of the proposal outweigh the costs. Included in the plan is a provision that lowers business and residential property taxes by $5 million a year.
Plans for the Target Center renovations were revealed earlier this year and include cosmetic and functional upgrades to the facility, many inspired by Target Field. At the press conference, Timberwolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor characterized the $100 million upgrade as “a pragmatic solution to a very difficult problem and I commend the leaders of Minneapolis for their leadership in drafting this proposal. I would obviously love to have a replacement facility, but as a Minnesotan and former legislator, I know that renovating Target Center for one-third of the cost of a replacement is a solution that fits our state and our times.”
The plan would replace the existing Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission with a new Minnesota Stadium Authority that would own and operate the proposed Vikings stadium, Target Center and the Minneapolis Convention Center.
UPDATE: Multiple sources are now claiming that a deal for an Arden Hills stadium is imminent and will be announced today at 3 p.m.