Met Council report says Vikings' stadium schedule unrealistic and aggressive

Arden Hills stadium
A rendering of a proposed stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in Arden Hills. The team and Ramsey County announced a deal Tuesday to finance and build the stadium.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

A Vikings stadium report commissioned by Gov. Mark Dayton says the timeline for building a new football stadium is too aggressive and would lead to cost overruns of $46 million a year.

The report found that Ramsey County and the Vikings have miscalculated the amount of time it will take to get the environmental review and permitting completed. That proposal calls for the new stadium to open for the 2015 season. The report found it's more likely it would open in 2016 or 2017. Gov. Dayton has said he is relying on the report's findings before he decides the next step in stadium negotiations.

The report also found that the Vikings and Ramsey County have not identified how to pay for $39 million of project costs in the $1.111 billion proposal. The review says that when the funding gap and a one-year delay are included, the price of the stadium goes up by $85 million to $1.196 billion.

The report, which was obtained by MPR News prior to its scheduled release Wednesday, was completed by the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. It does not say whether the stadium should be built.

Read the Met Council report: Stadium Proposal Risk Analysis

The review also found that Ramsey County would be liable for $58 million in cost overruns - financing that they didn't account for in a plan to increase the county's sales tax.

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett said he hadn't seen the report yet. But he told MPR News that he wasn't concerned about the findings. "There is always pitfalls. I built my own house and I can tell you there that we ran into a couple of things that we hadn't planned on. But we addressed them and we'll address them here. I think this is a win if that's all they found," Bennett said.

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team expected to be briefed on the Met Council report Wednesday morning and they have not had a chance to dig into the report.

"From a cursory look, we don't see anything in the report that would prevent us from moving forward on this exciting project," Bagley said.

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners has entered into an agreement with the Vikings to increase the county sales tax a half a percent. The sales tax would pay for the county's share of the stadium's cost. The report, however, said the county agreed to fund $58 million in cost overruns — money the county would have to find from new revenue.

The report also found that the sales tax could play a factor in the county's future planning. It said the increase would make the city of St. Paul's sales tax the highest in the state and "may compromise the County's and region's ability to finance other projects."

Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said the governor would not have any comment until the report is released Wednesday.

(Tim Nelson contributed reporting.)

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