Governor, legislative leaders meet to talk about possible stadium


Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders spent a little more than two hours discussing numerous options when it comes to a potential new home for the Minnesota Vikings.

All parties deemed the talks constructive in looking at venue and financing options.

“We had an excellent meeting,” Dayton said. “We discussed a whole range of options, which at this point remain the same as before. We nailed down some additional information that we need … We agreed to meet next week.”

“It was constructive; there were a lot of new things to go over, but nothing earth-shattering,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove). “This is a complicated process that’s going to take a very creative solution. That takes time.”

The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires after this season. Although team officials have not made any public threats, there is a fear amongst many fans that the team will move without a new facility.

A plan favored by the Vikings calls for the construction of a $1.1 billion stadium on 430 acres in Arden Hills. The team would pay about $420 million, Ramsey County $350 million through a 0.5 percent sales tax increase and the state would contribute $300 million. The site would also include ample game-day parking and a significant amount of retail.

The governor said nothing is off the table at this time when it comes to funding the state’s share.

“It’s all part of the process of refining the various proposals,” he said. “We’re looking at the various options and discussing the trade-offs that are involved. … You can’t ask people to make a decision without all the facts.”

Dayton has urged people with stadium ideas to offer them in writing soon so he can develop his own recommendation by Nov. 7. The governor has said he would like to call a special session the Monday through Wednesday of Thanksgiving week (Nov. 21-23) to deal with the issue.

“I can’t ask the leaders or others to commit to something when we don’t know what we’re committing to,” Dayton said. “I continue to believe that we’ve got to get this done very soon or it’ll open the door for the team to be courted by other states.”

“I wouldn’t say we’re ready for (a special session) at this point,” added Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo).

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak offered three downtown sites — including a refurbished Metrodome — and funding proposals Thursday to keep the team in the state’s largest city. The financing includes an increased sales tax, increased lodging tax and possibly gaming revenue from a casino at Block E. However, the team reiterated they are focused on the Arden Hills site.

Also Thursday, a bipartisan group of nine legislators — including Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington) and Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) — voiced opposition to any expansion of gambling in the state, including if revenue went to a stadium project.

Any site can provide “tremendous” economic development, Dayton said.