Gov. Mark Dayton met with Minneapolis city leaders on Oct. 24 to discuss three potential sites for a downtown Vikings stadium that would be paid for in part by a citywide sales tax.
Dayton said he set up the meeting with Mayor R.T. Rybak and Council President Barb Johnson because of “some real unanswered questions about the viability of the Arden Hills site.”
Rybak said the city would get more aggressive in its proposals, because he believes downtown is the best place for the stadium.
“(The Arden Hills) project has not gotten done and it seems to be at a very difficult stage here at the Legislature,” Rybak told reporters outside the Governor’s Office. “It’s time for us to put forward some of the ideas that we’ve had and try our best to convince the Wilfs that this is the place they can prosper.”
In May, Rybak proposed an $895 million roofed stadium at the site of the Metrodome, using a 0.15 percent sales tax and expanded hotel, liquor and restaurant taxes in Minneapolis. Included in the plan would be $100 million for renovating Target Center, releasing the city from about $5 million annually in debt paid for with property taxes.
The city’s share would be $195 million under the play, with the Vikings paying $400 million and the state paying $300 million.
Rybak did not rule out the possibility of using a casino at Block E to fund the stadium, but said he preferred a sales tax.
Johnson spoke a little more favorable about the casino idea.
“I think there are the votes on the Council to approve a casino in downtown Minneapolis,” Johnson said. “So as an option for us, in many ways it’s an attractive option.”
Republican Legislative leaders have indicated they would require Ramsey County to pass a referendum in order to raise the county sales tax to fund a stadium in Arden Hills. Dayton said a referendum couldn’t happen until November 2012, which might not be acceptable for the Vikings.
Rybak said he would not support a city referendum, and believes he has the votes on the City Council to pass a citywide sales tax increase.
Dayton said he is willing to listen to any stadium proposals, including proposals for the Farmer’s Market site near Target Field as well as the land behind the Basilica of St. Mary.
He plans to make his own stadium recommendation on Nov. 7, in time for a possible Nov. 21 special session.
Rybak said he would be doing his part to promote Minneapolis in the meantime.
“We will be moving more aggressively over the next week to more publicly put those ideas forward,” he said.