MnDOT stands by cost estimates for proposed Arden Hills stadium

Arden Hills rendering
In an image provided by the Minnesota Vikings NFL football team, an aerial view shows a proposed $1.1 billion retractable-roof stadium to be built on the site of the old Army ammunitions plant in Arden Hills, Minn., about 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis.
AP Photo/Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota transportation officials are standing by their estimate of how much it would cost to build and improve roads if a new Vikings stadium were built in Arden Hills.

Bernie Arseneau, chief engineer and deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, acknowledged that MnDOT has not done detailed calculations on the transportation needs surrounding a proposed site. But he said MnDOT is confident in the $175 million minimum estimate Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel sent Gov. Mark Dayton last week.

"We think that's right," Arseneau told MPR's Morning Edition. "We haven't gotten into the nuts and bolts of the cost, but we have identified the need. ... We've got a big history of doing road work like this so we have a pretty good understanding about what the general costs in these areas would be."

The Vikings and Ramsey County, which have proposed building a new stadium on the grounds of a former Army ammunition manufacturing operation, have said MnDOT's estimates are inflated. They've also argued some of the road improvements that would be needed are already in MnDOT's plans for the area without the stadium.

But Arseneau said MnDOT factored that fact in.

"The numbers we've been talking about recognize that and, in fact, are in addition to that," he said.

MnDOT said the road costs could reach $240 million if transportation needs for surrounding developments were included. Arseneau said it would be a significant project, though not as significant as the Crosstown project in the south metro, which cost $288 million.

Gov. Mark Dayton has said the state will contribute up to $300 million toward a new Vikings stadium, but the Vikings-Ramsey County plan estimates off-site transportation needs would only reach about $7 million a year.

Transportation costs appear to be the main reason the Arden Hills site would likely be more expensive for Minnesota taxpayers than building a new stadium where the Metrodome stands in Minneapolis. But the Vikings are against the Minneapolis plan, saying it would force them to be without a home for three years and hurt their ability to raise revenue.

(MPR's Cathy Wurzer contributed to this report.)

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