Dayton and Rybak meet for stadium talk

Mayor R.T. Rybak has renewed his push to keep the Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. Team officials are committed to a site in Arden Hills.

by Kevin Burbach

While the hunt for the Minnesota VikingsâÄô next stadium drags on, Minneapolis leaders are revisiting the idea of a new stadium near downtown Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson met with Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday at the state Capitol to discuss plans for a Minneapolis stadium.

âÄúThe best place for the Vikings to be is in downtown Minneapolis,âÄù Rybak said.

Although stadium talks have been focused on a site in suburban Arden Hills âÄî the Vikings organizationâÄôs preferred spot âÄî a report released Oct. 12 by the Metropolitan Council suggested the stadium could not be finished by its 2015 goal, and likely wouldnâÄôt be completed until 2016 or 2017.

âÄúWe also believe we can pass this plan so that [Vikings rookie quarterback] Christian Ponder can actually play in the new stadium before he retires,âÄù Rybak said.

âÄúWhen [the team] said they preferred Arden Hills, we stood back,âÄù Rybak said. âÄúThat project has not gotten done, and it seems to be at a very difficult stage here at the Legislature.âÄù

Minneapolis leaders began to revisit their plans for a stadium when progress on the Arden Hills plan slowed this month.

A Minneapolis stadium could go to one of three proposed sites. The first would build over the existing Metrodome site. The second is to construct a stadium on the current Farmers Market in downtown Minneapolis. A third site is on a plot of Xcel Energy land near the Basilica of St. Mary.

Dayton isnâÄôt committed to a particular site, but said, âÄúI donâÄôt want [the stadium] to be in Los Angeles.âÄù

The Vikings have sought the stateâÄôs help for years to build a replacement for the aging Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, which team officials have called no longer sufficiently profitable âÄî raising the specter that the team could move to Los Angeles or another city seeking a National Football League franchise.

Dayton met with VikingsâÄô owners and NFL officials in October to discuss plans. Earlier this month, he set a Nov. 23 deadline for a special session during which state legislators would vote on a plan if itâÄôs finalized in time.

Rybak said a city-wide sales tax in Minneapolis could help fund the construction. The mayor said he would not support a city-wide vote on whether to support that tax hike.

In addition to a new stadium, Rybak said the project would need to include an estimated $100 million renovation for the Target Center.  Rybak said that renovation would help relieve property taxes on city residents.

Minneapolis is time-tested, Rybak said, citing the few problems the Metrodome has caused during its decades of use and touting how the city has handled the Target Center and Target Field.

Including the Target Center renovations, Rybak said a conservative cost estimate would be $200 million less than any other site proposal. The projected cost of the Arden Hills stadium is about $1.1 billion.

The team hasnâÄôt been receptive to plans outside of Arden Hills, a suburb north of St. Paul where the team wants to build on an old munitions depot. Members of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners teamed up with the Vikings on a plan for the site that would call for the team to spend $400 million or more.

âÄúThere is no plan in Minneapolis,âÄù Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said last week.


-The Associated Press contributed to this report