Vikings stadium announcement Thursday, officials confirm

A deal set to be announced on Thursday, March 1, calls for the Vikings to build a new stadium on the current Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

State officials apparently have struck a long-awaited deal for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, after a meeting behind closed doors in Gov. Mark Dayton's office.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said an announcement will be made 9 a.m. Thursday regarding the proposed NFL stadium.

"We're much closer. People are going to keep working throughout the night, and we're hoping to have something good in the morning," Rybak said late Wednesday. "We've made a ton of progress in the last few days."

The hour-long meeting included legislators, Vikings officials, lobbyists, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chairman Ted Mondale, as well as Rybak and other city officials. It included legislators from the so-called "working group" who have been reviewing stadium proposals for weeks.

Stadium bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, confirmed afterward that the meeting was called to discuss a "term sheet" that outlines the framework of a deal between the Dayton administration, the Vikings and the Rybak administration.

"All the players were in the room... You'll see the details tomorrow morning," Rosen said, as she left the governor's office Wednesday evening. "It's a good package, and we can't wait to unveil it. It's time."

Rosen declined to discuss finance details.

Rosen confirmed that the deal involved locating the new stadium generally where the current stadium stands. "The Metrodome site is very good," she said.

Locating the stadium on that site has been a matter of some debate, as shifting it eastward might allow the Vikings to keep playing in the Metrodome for at least part of the construction period.

Rosen also confirms that the deal, as it was laid out in January, involves hospitality taxes already being collected in Minneapolis to be used to pay a local share.

Another lawmaker, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, denied that a deal was complete, but did say it was very close.

"People are working yet through the night a little bit," Lanning said. "We still have some t's to cross and i's to dot... We'll have more to say tomorrow morning."

It remains unclear how the bill will address one of the potential sticking points in the deal: Minneapolis officials have said they must be able to fund a renovation of Target Center out of the deal.

Rybak pegged that renovation at $135 million on Wednesday night, down from an initial $150 million he proposed in May 2011. The city has been hoping to use some of the hospitality taxes involved in the Vikings deal to fund part of the renovation.

The taxes being collected in Minneapolis are currently supporting a convention center and Target Center, and if we're being asked to use the taxes collected in Minneapolis for the Vikings stadium, we need some more creativity and flexibility to be able to solve the Target Center issue," Rybak said. "How that comes in legislation doesn't matter. We just need it resolved."

Rybak did not address another issue that recently cropped up — a potential $55 million gap between what Minneapolis finance experts think the city can raise, and what the city has pledged towards a Vikings stadium.

The deal also leaves unanswered the biggest question of all: whether lawmakers are interested in passing a stadium bill at all. Although legislators have been consulted on the terms of a preliminary deal, they've also expressed reservations about many previous proposals.

Some oppose gambling, others oppose public subsidies for professional sports. Senate minority leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, has said that he is troubled by a Minneapolis charter amendment capping city spending on professional sports at $10 million. He has said during this legislative session that he would pledge 12 DFL votes for a stadium, but that he wants to see a majority of the City Council back the city's bid.

The terms of the deal to be unveiled Thursday are expected to include a waiver of that spending cap in state law.

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