St. Paul City Council opposes Vikings stadium tax [UPDATE]

Pictured: The proposed stadium in Arden Hills. Some assembly required.

Pictured: The proposed stadium in Arden Hills. Some assembly required.

A resolution on the tax to fund the Minnesota Vikings stadium in Arden Hills looks headed for a 7-0 shutout in the St. Paul City Council today.

If it's approved by the state Legislature, the current proposal would raise sales taxes in Ramsey County by a half-cent on the dollar, until county taxpayers had banked $350 million. But the City Council wants the state to find the money somewhere else.

The council's vote won't actually stop the tax, but it looks a bit like a giant foam middle finger toward the plan to fund the Vikings' home on Ramsey County's dime.
[jump] Six City Council members have already signed a resolution opposing the tax, and the seventh, Melvin Carter, is also against it. A unanimous vote today means that St. Paul's mayor and all seven of its City Council members are against the working proposal to fund the stadium. But all the hand-wringing could be for naught: If the state Legislature approves the current terms, the stadium will be built, and largely with taxpayer money.

Under the current $1 billion proposal, the state would be on the hook for $300 million, and the Vikings' uber-rich brother owners, Zygi and Mark Wilf, would come up with around $440 million. That leaves Ramsey County to fill in the gap.

Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega proposed the tax and lobbied for it at the Capitol, but negotiations stalled as the Legislature moved on to other things, like not avoiding a state shutdown. In late May, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman offered his own plan, which would add a 2-cent tax to alcohol sales statewide until Minnesota drank its way to $350 million.

If neither idea is approved, there might still be a lifeline for the Vikings. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell -- who is, himself, presiding over a shutdown right now -- has said the league might chip in to help close a gap between the state and the Wilfs to keep the team in Minnesota.

Option two, if the state's and Ramsey County's taxpayers decide they can't afford the stadium, is that the team could head west to Los Angeles, where investors were speculating about landing the Vikings as recently as early June. Minnesota lost a basketball team to L.A. once; after the Lakers left in 1960, it was 40 years before basketball came back to the Twin Cities.

UPDATE: The city council approved the resolution unanimously Wednesday afternoon. The resolution rejects the current plan, which would call on St. Paul residents to produce $165 million of the $350 million in Ramsey County.

"It is unfair and inequitable for the residents and businesses of Saint Paul to be asked to bear a disproportionate financial burden for the construction of a State and regional amenity, particularly when the benefit to Saint Paul taxpayers is tangential at best," the resolution says. 

Again, technically this resolution can't stop the stadium plan. But it sure doesn't look good to have seven city council members and a mayor opposing the deal to put a stadium in their front yard. Your move, Zygi.