Gov. Mark Dayton has at least three Vikings stadium plans on his desk this morning. He says he'll be looking over the plans ahead of the legislative session set to convene in just over a week. But after a year of debate, the effort to build a new home for the Vikings is still facing many hurdles.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley welcomed the plans, but didn't offer any commitments. He wouldn't say, either, if the team has any plans to initiate a relocation to another city before a Feb. 15 deadline set in NFL bylaws.
"We're aware of that date. But we're encouraged with today's good progress and today's good news, about viable options on the table, for state leaders and the team to sort through. Hopefully, within, you know, the next week to 10 days, there's that package that we can then take to the legislature and the public," Bagley said
Tim Nelson joined Morning Edition host Phil Picardi to talk about what's ahead for the NFL in Minnesota.
PICARDI: So what's next?
NELSON: Well, let me walk you through some numbers here. I think the most important of them right now is four. That's the number of sites on the table right now.
State leaders have been urging prospective hosts to winnow down the Vikings options, down to maybe two. But conventional political tools, like small group negotiations and deadlines and competitive bidding just don't seem to be narrowing the field. We're really right where we've been for the last eight months.
A couple other important numbers: 11 and 25. It's just 11 days before the legislative session starts. That's not much time to put together a stadium package that can be teed up for opening days and cleared out quickly, as some have hoped. And we're also just over three weeks now from the precinct caucuses in Minnesota. Extending negotiations much beyond that risks winding this up into an election issue.
PICARDI: And what exactly will Gov. Dayton and lawmakers have to pick from?
NELSON: Well, let me say first that the stadium itself really isn't the issue. Wherever it winds up, the building itself is expected to cost about $820 million. It'll almost have to have a roof. That's kind of a known quantity.
Where it goes, is another matter. In Ramsey County, the total bill is about $1.1 billion, and a the biggest add on there is about $100 million in road improvements the state thinks Arden Hills needs to accommodate fans.
The next cheapest seems to be the Linden Avenue site, at about $1 billion. But that really hasn't been fully fleshed out yet, and could have some surprises, like changes to nearby Interstate 94 or 394.
Next down the price list is the Metrodome, at about $900 million. That saves money by essentially reusing the bowl of the existing Metrodome. It's what the city of Minneapolis wants. The Vikings say its workable, but the Vikings say it doesn't have enough parking. They'd also have to move out during the rebuild, and they say all that would add about $70 million to the project.
And finally, there's Shakopee, and a site kitty corner from Valleyfair. That's the newest entry. Supporters say it would run about $900 million.
PICARDI: And who would pay that?
NELSON: Well, probably you and me and many of the people listening out there. The leading proposals have hospitality taxes in Minneapolis and Ramsey County paying about a third of the bill. The state may have to pick up another third or so, possibly with electronic pull tabs in bars, and maybe at the state's two horse tracks. The team will pick up the rest, but they'll be looking for fans to pay that with higher ticket prices, personal seat licenses and premium seating.
PICARDI: And how's that going to be accomplished? What needs to be done now?
NELSON: There are a lot of hoops to jump through.
Ramsey County's bid includes a new tax. The county can't impose it alone, but Republican lawmakers have virtually ruled out new taxes. The county also faces some serious internal political opposition. The No Stadium Tax coalition leaders say they could have enough signatures by the middle of February to put the stadium on the 2012 ballot, and even stadium supporters don't think a stadium could win that election.
Minneapolis has existing bar, food and hotel taxes. But there are two very vocal critics on the city council over there, including Gary Schiff, who led the referendum that caps city spending on a stadium at 10 million dollars. And even the council president Barb Johnson says the city isn't interested in any deal that doesn't put millions more dollars into Target Center.
A small group of state lawmakers, including bill authors Morrie Lanning and Julie Rosen, have already been trying to come up with a financing plan that could win enough votes in the legislature. I would look for the next development to come from that so-called working group, and where they think the money could come from will probably decide where the stadium goes.
PICARDI: Thanks, Tim.