Gov. Mark Dayton says two different Minneapolis locations are the most “feasible” home for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, unless a viable funding option for the team’s preferred site in Arden Hills can pass muster with the GOP-led Legislature.
Dayton, who received a handful of stadium proposals from cities and counties last week, said Wednesday that the current Metrodome location or a site on Linden Avenue in downtown Minneapolis are the two most likely sites.
By Dayton’s account, both sites point to feasible local funding options, while Ramsey County faces the difficult task of bypassing a voter referendum to increase local sales taxes or food and beverage taxes. GOP leaders of the Legislature have said they will not allow Ramsey County to circumvent a voter referendum, and that position is unlikely to change, Dayton said.
Without a local partner, the state and Vikings would be on the hook to pay for the total $1.1 billion proposed stadium in Arden Hills, with the Vikings bearing about $700 million of the cost.
Despite repeated questions from reporters, Dayton refused to declare the Ramsey County site dead. “If the Vikings so want to be in Arden Hills that they will increase their financial contribution to that amount, the project is potentially viable,” Dayton said. “If not, it is not.”
Minneapolis city officials have said they prefer to build a new stadium on the Metrodome site, which is the cheapest proposal at about $918 million. But Dayton showed a slight preference toward the Linden Avenue site on Wednesday, which would cost $995 million to build.
“This site offers significant advantages over the Metrodome, particularly its proximity to Target Center, Target Field, downtown hotels, restaurants and the like,” he said, adding that the Vikings could continue to play in the Metrodome while a stadium on Linden Avenue was under construction.
Before the Linden site can move forward, however, issues must be resolved with officials from the Basilica of Saint Mary, who have some concerns about putting the home of the professional football team so close to the landmark church. Dayton said he has met with a pastor from the church twice in the last week, and plans to meet him again on Friday.
He did not set a public deadline for a stadium proposal, but said his administration is “pushing hard.” “I think we are very close,” he said. “I think we are at the five-yard line.”
Legislators plan to meet this evening to work on a stadium proposal. Dayton’s deputy chief of staff, Michele Kelm-Helgen, will also attend the meeting.