UPDATE: Dayton’s stadium decision: no decision yetST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton says he does not have enough information to get behind a Vikings stadium plan, but appears to be leaning toward a western downtown Minneapolis site.
By: Don Davis, Worthington Daily Globe
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton says he does not have enough information to get behind a Vikings stadium plan, but appears to be leaning toward a western downtown Minneapolis site.
The governor released pages of information about the three major potential stadium locations Wednesday, but said enough questions remain for each that he cannot recommend one. Nine proposals were submitted last week, three of which he took seriously.
Dayton said he is pressuring backers of each site to fill in the blanks, but did not give a deadline for when those answers are due.
“Regrettably, there is not yet a stadium proposal with a complete and sufficient financial plan, one which assigns equitable obligations to the Vikings, the local partner and the state of Minnesota,” Dayton said. “And no site sponsor has adequately resolved the major unanswered questions in order to merit the approval to proceed.”
In the meantime, a group of legislators and a governor’s aide were to meet late Wednesday on the stadium issue. Any stadium plan needs legislative approval, but lawmakers are all over the map on stadium issues, especially how to finance it.
One of the group’s leaders, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, disagreed with Dayton’s apparent narrowing of viable stadium sites.
"Despite the governor's statements, I plan to continue evaluating all serious proposals on their individual merits and with the same concerns for Minnesota taxpayers,” Rosen said.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said that while the northern Ramsey County community of Arden Hills remains the team’s preferred site, two downtown Minneapolis sites are feasible.
The site and how a stadium would be funded remain the main issues, as they have been for years. Bagley said decisions on the two issues must resolved and a bill presented early in the legislative session that begins Tuesday.
Dayton said the longer it takes to answer the questions, the less likely it is that a stadium will be approved by lawmakers. Legislative leaders want to adjourn for the year in April.
The governor reinforced his support of allowing charitable gambling outlets to use electronic devices as well as the current paper pull tabs and bingo cards. That would bring in $60 million a year, he said, about double what would be needed to pay the state’s portion of a stadium-construction loan.
The Vikings’ favored site, at Arden Hills, lacks a local funding option, Dayton said. Republican legislative leaders say there is not support to allow a local tax increase that Ramsey County officials propose, which leaves the $1.1 billion plan more than $300 million short.
Dayton said that without a workable Ramsey County funding plan, one option would be for the Vikings to pay $700 toward a stadium. Bagley rejected that option.
The plan all along has been for the Vikings, state and a local government to split costs of a stadium.
Dayton appeared to dismiss Minneapolis’ preferred plan, to rebuild the Metrodome, in favor of one in the city’s western downtown area near where the basketball Timberwolves and baseball Twins play.
However, the governor said that the Vikings need to say how much they will pay toward a stadium built in Minneapolis. They promise more than $400 million if the stadium is built in Arden Hills, but on Wednesday Bagley continued to refuse to say how much the team could contribute if a stadium is built in Minneapolis.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.
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