The state of Minnesota isn't the only thing shut down these days. The deal to build the Minnesota Vikings a new stadium has also slipped into idle this summer as the budget standoff has deepened.
Here's a quick status check:
Q: How close is deal over a proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills?
A: In some respects, the same place it was on May 10. That's when Ramsey County and the team announced they'd picked a site and come up with a plan. It calls for the Vikings to pay $407 million, Ramsey County to pay $350 million and the state to pay $300 million. State officials have balked because they say the plan would require another $130 million of road improvements, and they're not willing to foot the cost overrun. A bill to fund the overall stadium construction was introduced in April, but never got a public hearing.
Q: Will the shutdown effect the stadium?
A: The budget impasse prompted a flurry of last-minute meetings before the shutdown began, without apparent result. Talks went on hiatus over the July 4th holiday weekend as the shutdown took effect.
But it's widely believed that a stadium deal is in play in the budget negotiations, since it will require a state tax increase on sports memorabilia. Stadium bill sponsors have also said repeatedly they won't move on a deal until the state has a budget. "It will be the last vote of a special session," predicted Julie Rosen, the Republican sponsor in the Senate.
Q: What's the holdup?
A: The state has committed to spending $300 million, including "infrastructure costs." The county has argued that some road improvements don't need to be done, that others don't need to be done in conjunction with a stadium and that some, like improvements to the I-694/I-35W interchange, are required regardless of a Vikings stadium.
The Vikings in June said they thougt the actual costs were less than $130 million, and offered a highly structured sales tax plan to pay for about $80 million of the project. Federal road funds and brownfield cleanup money was supposed to have closed the rest of the gap. Lawmakers, however, said those numbers "weren't solid" and declined to sign off on the deal. Road officials have, at least publicly, stood by the $130 million dollar list of road requirements.
Q: What's next?
A: The three parties in the deal have to come to some agreement on the infrastructure costs. That will involve either bringing the expected costs down, coming up with more money, or a combination of the two. When, and if, that deal is struck, the deal will face at least four votes.
First, it will have to win a simple majority on the 7-member Ramsey County Board, initially to approve the deal, and then to levy the sales tax. County commissioners think they have five commissioners willing to support the deal.
The other two votes will have to win approval in the state House and Senate. Ultimately, Gov. Mark Dayton will have to sign it, but the deal will likely require his approval to even get a hearing at the Capitol.
Q: What are the odds of this happening?
A: No one knows. This is farther than a Vikings stadium proposal has ever gone before. But a stadium deal between the Twins and St. Paul collapsed in 2002, more than a month after the Legislature and governor signed off.
The St. Paul city council and much of the Ramsey County legislative delegation are now on record opposing the current Vikings deal, but the Twins stadium got built with only a single vote of support among Minneapolis lawmakers. It also overcame a charter amendment capping stadium spending in Minneapolis.
There may be some critical mass of political opposition that could kill the plan, but it isn't clear if this deal has reached or will reach that point. On the plus side, Dayton says he wants the deal done this year, and governors tend to get what they want.
Q: Who is really paying?
A: The state has offered a mixture of taxes, including sports memorabilia taxes, ticket taxes and narrow sales taxes to pay its portion. Vikings, Twins, Wild hockey and Timberwolves fans would probably chip in the most to the state's share In Ramsey County, the plan would add a half percent to existing sales taxes -- giving St. Paul the highest sales tax in Minnesota.
The county has also offered to tack on a car sales tax to help pay for road work. The Vikings are likely to use ticket revenue, stadium sales, parking charges and other team revenue. If the NFL resolves its labor dispute, it may offer tens of millions of dollars in aid, derived from a complicated ticket sharing scheme -- as it has in previous stadium deals. But that money is already included in the Vikings offer.
Q: What about the Metrodome?
The roof is being replaced, panel by panel, and is on schedule to be finished by August for a test inflation. Metropolitan Sports Facilites Commission chairman Ted Mondale says the panels should be installed by the week of July 11. The Vikings are contracted to play another season under the dome, and will likely keep playing there for several years while a new facililty is built. Because it was well insured by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the repair is only expected to cost the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission about $25,000.