Minnesota Vikings Rebuff New Stadium Plans

February 13, 2012

NFL’s Minnesota Vikings said Friday that team owners didn’t like a new proposal to fund a $1 billion stadium in the Twin Cities suburbs using ticket fees and other game-related charges.

The latest proposal floated by several Ramsey County commissioners was meant to replace a previous stadium financing plan that relied on a county food and liquor sales tax. Instead, it would draw $20.6 million annually from stadium user fees, an admissions surcharge, a stadium sales tax and parking lot naming rights.

The county board said the plan would generate $618 million over 30 years.

Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president for stadium development, called the plan problematic. While Vikings owners have favored the Ramsey County site in the community of Arden Hills over options in downtown Minneapolis, Bagley said a prior agreement between the Vikings and Ramsey County hinged on the team receiving parking revenue and naming rights — and on the condition of no admissions taxes.

“When you change those things you change the underlying agreement between the team and the county,” Bagley said. “We need to refine it because of those reasons.”

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett had called the new plan a “game changer” after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday. He later acknowledged the Vikings may not like elements of the new plan.

Dayton did not comment specifically on details of the new plan, but praised Ramsey County leaders for remaining consistent in their stadium efforts. He contrasted that with city council members in Minneapolis, who have been reluctant to throw full support behind a new stadium there.

“They all sit on the sidelines and carp about everything,” Dayton said. Later, he added: “They don’t have … the proper perspective on what’s best for all of Minneapolis.”

Earlier this week, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chairman Ted Mondale and stadium negotiators unveiled a new plan to quickly build a new stadium on a parking lot just east of the Metrodome. So far, stadium supporters in the Legislature have not put their weight behind any of the numerous stadium proposals batted around in recent weeks.

Bagley said a decision is far from made.

“The Minneapolis proposal has its share of issues as well,” Bagley said.

The Vikings have wanted out of the Metrodome for years, calling the 30-year-old stadium no longer sufficiently profitable compared to other NFL venues. The team’s lease at the Metrodome expired Feb. 1, and hanging over their new stadium push has been the fear among fans that the team will leave Minnesota.

Team owner Zygi Wilf has said the Vikings want a new stadium in the Twin Cities, even if it means building on the current site of the Metrodome.

by Ismail Uddin