Major hurdles for Arden Hills stadium site

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May 9, 2011 // UPDATED 3:19 pm - May 13, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss

With each passing day, the saga of the new Vikings stadium grows more tangled. Although the Arden Hills site has the support of the team and the city, it faces serious political hurdles. 

Hurdles which could make the Minneapolis Metrodome site look more attractive.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Governor Mark Dayton have both expressed serious reservations about the plan, which both characterized as better for the Vikings than the community. 

Coleman said in a press conference on Thursday that St. Paul, as Ramsey County’s largest city, would pay a disproportionate amount of the half-cent sales tax for the Arden Hill site.

"Whether it's got a great direct benefit to the city of St. Paul is one of the things I'm going to be asking," Coleman said. "Quite frankly, a huge chunk of that half-cent sales tax would be generated in the city of St. Paul. "I need to know those numbers. "What are they asking the residents and the people shopping in St. Paul to pay? What are the benefits of the Arden Hills site to St. Paul?"

Despite his reservations, Coleman has not yet taken an official stance for or against the stadium. The Mayor said he will withhold judgment until he sees an upcoming state analysis on the proposed tax increases.

Coleman's concerns are shared by Governor Dayton.

Nearly every day since the Ramsey plan was announced, Governor Dayton has expressed some level of discomfort with the plan. “I could see why that would be appealing to the Vikings. I don’t know why Ramsey County agreed to it,” Dayton told the Star Tribune. He expressed concerns that the team would have too much control over the project and that the proposed five-member stadium authority would have limited influence. He also repeated his stance that the state's maximum $300 million contribution would include any infrastructure upgrades the stadium would necessitate. 

The majority of Ramsey County’s state legislators also oppose the plan.

When polled by the Pioneer Press, 18 of the County’s 22 legislators replied. Of those 18, 14 opposed the Arden Hills deal.

In Minneapolis, influential business leaders have rallied to support the Metrodome site plan. The Downtown Council and the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce have written a letter of support for the project which they have sent to Governor Dayton.

"The Minneapolis plan is real," said Downtown Council president Sam Grabarski. "One has to wonder if the Legislature has time to understand and debate any proposal. We have to believe that common sense will prevail."