Re: Bengals v. Vikings
Sabo Fan - Some good news, in case you weren't aware of it.
Vikings, Anoka County reach stadium deal
Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
September 19, 2005 STADIUM0919.OL
The Vikings will announce tomorrow an agreement to build a $675 million stadium and related development in Anoka County.
A press conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday in Blaine, near the site where new owner Zygi Wilf plans to build the structure with a retractable roof, a Vikings team official said.
Wilf and the NFL plan to combine on at least $250 million contribution, while Anoka County will provide at least $240 million through a county-wide sales tax.
The Vikings and Anoka County will ask the state to make up the rest likely in infrastructure costs.
"We've been working around the clock and we are just putting the finishing touches on the agreement,'' Vikings executive Lester Bagley said Monday.
While he wouldn't detail the entire agreement, Bagley said it calls for the football stadium as part of a broader development project.
The county would seek permission from the state Legislature to enact a 0.75 percent sales tax to help pay for construction and ask for the state to chip in for road projects around the site.
Last week, new Vikings owner Zygi Wilf held a series of private meetings with top lawmakers, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty, about the stadium.
At those meetings, he told the elected officials he was willing to contribute at least $250 million to the project.
House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, said Wilf has gotten off on the right foot.
"There's always going to be a lot of uneasiness about funding stadiums, but Zygi is doing a good job by making it clear we won't be blackmailed by the threat of a team leaving,'' Entenza said.
How the plan will fare though is another matter, and Entenza said he'd withhold judgment until seeing it in writing.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, said the governor is "open to finding a reasonable way to ensure their long-term presence in Minnesota.''
"The governor will be communicating with legislative leaders regarding stadiums and other issues shortly,'' McClung said. "We will evaluate the Vikings proposal in that context.''
The Vikings stadium, parking lot, training facility and team headquarters would comprise 200 acres of the 740-acre overall Blaine development, which would also have retail space.
The Vikings are under lease to play in the Metrodome until 2011. But the team has argued that the Dome is outdated. The Vikings rank near the bottom of the league in local revenue.
Julie Shortridge, a county spokeswoman, said Anoka officials wouldn't comment until the news conference.
The state has already put a nominal amount of money toward a new football stadium.
In 2002, the Legislature provided $500,000 for football stadium design, but that was when the Vikings and University of Minnesota were trying to team up on a single facility.
The Gophers are pursuing state money toward a $235 million on-campus stadium without a roof. The school is rounding up private dollars for 60 percent of it.
This summer, lawmakers put off action on that proposal and one from the Minnesota Twins, which have joined with Hennepin County on a downtown ballpark plan that also relies on a higher local sales tax.
John Knight, a Minnetonka lawyer who co-founded a residents group to fight the Twins bill, said stadium supporters are on the wrong side of public opinion. His group, Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum, wants a public vote on any local tax used for a stadium.
"The people with a vested interest who want a stadium tax subsidy kind of remind me of a used car salesman — the longer they keep trying, they more they wear you down,'' Knight said. "Generally, when you go to buy a car, the longer you are at the dealer, the more likely it is you are going to get screwed.''