Vikings have no interest in lawmakers' proposal to give them Metrodome

ST. PAUL It's not a new concept, it's being dismissed by the Minnesota Vikings, and it's coming at the 11th hour, but two lawmakers Friday proposed a plan they say will restore "fiscal sanity" to the debate over a new stadium: Give the Vikings th...

The Metrodome. (AP file photo, Jim Mone)


It's not a new concept, it's being dismissed by the Minnesota Vikings, and it's coming at the 11th hour, but two lawmakers Friday proposed a plan they say will restore "fiscal sanity" to the debate over a new stadium: Give the Vikings the Metrodome in return for a 25-year contract to play in Minnesota.

"The Vikings could retrofit this facility in any way they see fit," said state Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, chairwoman of the property and local tax subcommittee.

She pitched the plan at a Capitol news conference with state Sen. John Marty of Roseville, the ranking DFLer on the Senate Taxes Committee.

It wasn't the only Minneapolis stadium plan being promoted Friday. Landowners at the downtown Farmers' Market site said they're nearing agreement on land assembly as well.


The emergence of both proposals was a sign that Gov. Mark Dayton's deadline for plans by the end of next week is spurring some with stadium ideas to show their hands.

The Dome idea wouldn't require public money, its sponsors said, and it would allow taxpayers to recoup the value of the Metrodome site from property taxes paid by the team.

The Vikings would keep all revenue from events at the stadium and would pay the operating costs, estimated at $12 million per year.

But the team said the plan a "nonstarter."

"This isn't the first time the idea has been discussed, but even stadium opponents understand the facility no longer works for the team, our fans or the state," the Vikings said.

"These unrealistic ideas prevent serious discussion about the only viable stadium plan in Arden Hills."

Dayton said Wednesday that he hadn't heard the plan was being presented again.

But, he said, "at this point, I would say that's not going to really change the financial equation."


John Stiles, spokesman for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, said the mayor is open to all ideas but hadn't seen the Dome proposal and couldn't comment. Rybak is scheduled to meet with Dayton on Monday.

Marty said he and Runbeck knew initial reaction to their idea would be negative but that people will come to see the deal is fair.

"People change their minds," Marty said. "Nonstarter? Last week, Christian Ponder was a nonstarter."

He said the offer to the Vikings is comparable to what they would get at either of the Los Angeles sites being talked about as potential locations for the team.

The Vikings are pursuing a $1.1 billion stadium on 430 acres in Arden Hills. It would be financed with $350 million from Ramsey County, $300 million from the state and at least $420 million from the team.

Marty said he opposes using public money for a stadium and would object to an idea being floated around the Capitol to use Legacy Amendment funds -- from a statewide sales tax that voters approved in 2008.

Dayton has said he wants final stadium proposals in writing by the end of next week so he can prepare his own recommendations by Nov. 7, with a special session potentially to follow Nov. 21-23.

Marty questioned the need for the rush, particularly when he said public opinion is running strongly against using public money for a stadium and the $650 million-plus contribution in Minnesota "would be the largest taxpayer subsidy of any sports team in history, period."


Jeff Anderson, the Vikings' director of corporate communications, said he couldn't verify that claim.

It's "probably accurate" that it's the largest public contribution for an NFL stadium, he said, but the Vikings' owners also are putting up the third-largest private contribution for an NFL stadium.

Runbeck said she doesn't think the Arden Hills plan has enough support in the Legislature to be passed.

"I don't think anyone wants a special session, frankly, before Thanksgiving....We don't even know then what the deficit might be," she said. The next state economic forecast is expected in early December.

"We don't want to take up a stadium," Runbeck said. "I think I speak for 90 percent of the Legislature. We don't think this merits the kind of urgency that would put it on top of everything else. I mean, this is the entertainment industry.

"Why are we considering $650 million to help the entertainment industry? Please."

Meanwhile, Chuck Leer, a Minneapolis real estate developer who represents landowners of the 34-acre Farmers' Market site in Minneapolis, said, "We think we've got critical mass to make land assembly work."

Leer said he represents 10 owners who have 14 of the 21 parcels at the site near Target Field.


He doesn't have commitments from the owners of five parcels, but he said no one has opposed his efforts and expects he'd be able to get buy-in from everyone within a few months.

The Farmers' Market plan has been around for months, but the landowners are coming forward again because of the deadline announced by Dayton, Leer said.

"There's this urgency now," he said, and the landowners believe there needs to be a downtown site in the mix and that the Farmers' Market plan offers the greatest public benefit.

None of it makes any difference to the Vikings, however.

"There's one viable proposal; it's Arden Hills," team vice president Lester Bagley said Friday.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

What To Read Next
Get Local