Vikings stadium: Minneapolis, Ramsey County release final funding proposals
As far as the Vikings stadium controversy is concerned, the time for talk is nearing an end.
Today, Minneapolis and Ramsey County -- the two leading contenders to serve as the site of a new public-private NFL stadium -- submitted their final stadium funding proposals, less than two weeks before the start of this year's legislative session.
Which proposal has the inside track?
If you believe that any proposal relying on new taxes won't be viable, then the answer to that question is a resounding "Minneapolis!"
Minneapolis' plan, developed by Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barb Johnson, would pay for the public portion of a new stadium (along with the refurbishment of the Target Center) with existing taxes. A city press release published after the plan was submitted to Governor Dayton provides details:
Rybak and Johnson believe the Metrodome site is best, but are willing to talk about alternatives.
In the plan, Mayor Rybak and Council President Johnson outlined Minneapolis' financial contribution to the capital and operating costs of a People's Stadium, which would be paid for by repurposing the taxes that currently fund the debt, operating and capital needs of the Minneapolis Convention Center. For a period of 30 years beginning in 2016, Minneapolis would contribute $6.5 million annually (inflated at 3% a year) to the operating and capital-maintenance costs of the People's Stadium, as well as a stream of revenues that would support $150 million of capital costs.
Though the Vikings have maintained all along that they want a new stadium in Arden Hills, speculation has mounted in recent days that the team might be amenable to building on a site near the Basilica of Saint Mary. But in their press release, Rybak and Johnson make it clear that they think the Metrodome site is preferable.
"While we are open to and engaged in continued discussions with the Vikings on the Linden Avenue site, we believe that Downtown East remains the best, lowest-cost option for a new Vikings stadium," the release says, indicating that while Minneapolis' funding proposal has been finalized, the site remains up for debate. The cost of a new stadium near the Basilica has been estimated at about $1.1 billion, while a new stadium on the Dome site would cost roughly $950 million.
Ramsey County's plan, on the other hand, relies on a new countywide three-percent food and beverage tax to fund the public portion of the stadium.
The Star Tribune reports that some key legislators have balked at giving Ramsey County authority to levy the tax for a $1.11 billion Vikings stadium in Arden Hills, but the county is arguing that many cities and counties have received similar permission over the past 30 years.
Tom Pelissero, senior editor for 1500ESPN.com, has been watching the Vikings stadium drive closely and offered up the following two tweets in the moments after the details of the final stadium proposals become public:
From what I hear, Ramsey County and Shakopee stadium proposals both will be dead on arrival. Look for #Vikings to push Basilica site hard.-- Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 12, 2012
The key will be figuring out in Minneapolis' financing idea will work. If it does, city will push Dome site and #Vikings will push Basilica.-- Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 12, 2012
Pelissero later tweeted that he thinks a Vikings stadium deal will get done with the facility ultimately ending up on the Metrodome site.
David Brauer, who wrote a detailed analysis of Minneapolis' final stadium proposal for MinnPost, also offered up a couple interesting tweets:
Minneapolis #vikings proposal: 4 pages. RamCo proposal: 148 pages. Who's feeling cocky??-- David Brauer (@dbrauer) January 12, 2012
For you Minneapolitans scoring at home, city would spend about same ($6M-ish/yr) on libraries as #vikings stadium.-- David Brauer (@dbrauer) January 12, 2012
With the final funding proposals on the table, now it's time for lawmakers to answer the question that will determine whether Minneapolis, Arden Hills, or Los Angeles is the site of the Vikings' new stadium -- is there a legislative appetite to turn any of these plans into reality?
The answer to that question will become clear over the next few weeks.
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