Vikings, politicians detail stadium bill
Minneapolis stadium rendering
Minneapolis stadium rendering
Posted Mar 1, 2012
Tim Yotter

The Vikings and politicians from the state and Minneapolis unveiled details of a new stadium bill, touting the creation of 13,000 jobs and no general-fund dollars being used.

The Minnesota Vikings are getting a stadium bill advanced as far as it ever has since the Wilf ownership group bought the franchise in 2005.

Zygi and Mark Wilf, along with Gov. Mark Dayton and a variety of politicians from the state and City of Minneapolis level, used a Thursday morning press conference to introduce a bill that would fund a new $975 million stadium for the Vikings.

“Our state will have a premiere stadium to host the Minnesota Vikings,” Dayton said in his opening statement. “All of this will be accomplished without using a single general-fund tax dollar.”

The State of Minnesota would be responsible for $398 million in up-front building costs, with Minneapolis responsible for $150 million and the team contributing $427 million for a fixed-roof facility that would be located on the current Metrodome footprint in Minneapolis.

Sen. Julie Rosen, a longtime proponent of a new Vikings stadium, said Dayton has been “stellar” working on the stadium issue, but all parties acknowledged that there is work ahead to get the bill passed at both the state and city levels.

“Today is the official handoff,” Rosen said of forwarding the bill. “… It’s time for our work to begin and I’m ready. The business community is ready.

“We will work on this in a very bi-partisan way.”

While Dayton called the bill “remarkable,” he, too, stressed that it needs approval from the State Legislature and Minneapolis City Council, saying “now the real work begins.”

The bill avoided two potential sticking points – using general-fund dollars from the state and a Minneapolis City Charter that doesn’t allow increased taxes of more than $10 million in City money to be directed toward a stadium for professional sports. The expansion of gambling with the addition of electronic pull tabs would fund the state’s portion – that is projected to raise $72 million annually – and Minneapolis would be using existing sales taxes that would be extended until 2045 to fund its portion. Minneapolis would be given greater control of its sales taxes. According to Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, about $400 million of sales taxes collected annually in Minneapolis go to the state. He said some of the state’s current portion would be directed to stadium costs.

Rybak acknowledged that there is opposition to a stadium bill at the city council level, but said “there has not been a solid proposal (until now) and there has not been a solid vote.”

Extending the sales taxes in Minneapolis would also continue funding for the Minneapolis Convention Center and possibly Target Center, among other buildings.

“This solves that problem. We have a compelling case and we’re going to make it and I’m optimistic about doing that,” Rybak said, joining forces with Dayton in stressing the creation and support of 13,000 jobs during the construction and operational phases.

Nearly 4.3 million work hours would be put into stadium construction. Once completed, the Vikings would contribute $13 million to annual operation costs and the City of Minneapolis would contribute $7.5 million annually. Between construction and operational costs, the Vikings would be contributing 50.6 percent of the project’s life-cycle costs.

The team would keep all football-related revenue, including naming rights and income from suite sales. Revenue’s produced from a potential Major League Soccer franchise that the Wilfs have been interested in bringing to Minnesota would also be directed to that franchise. All other revenues would go to a stadium authority run by a five-member panel – three appointed by the state and two by the city.

The Vikings would be able to play in the Metrodome for all but one season while the new stadium, modeled after Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, is being built nearby. During the final stages of construction, Vikings games would relocate to the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.

“This is an exciting day because the dream of keeping the Minnesota Vikings here for generations to come is close at hand,” Zygi Wilf said. “It’s an exciting day for the State of Minnesota, the City of Minneapolis, the Minnesota Vikings and our fans. … Here we are at the cusp of getting this done.”

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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