That didn’t take long. Just 24 hours after Minneapolis announced its Vikings stadium plan, Ramsey County announced its own. This one would cost $1.05 billion, and have something Minneapolis doesn’t have — the agreement of the Vikings:
The agreement calls for an $884 million stadium and an additional $173 million for on-site infrastructure, parking and environmental costs.
Ramsey County said the Vikings will commit $407 million to the project — 44 percent of the stadium costs and 39 percent of the overall costs. The county’s share would be $350 million, to be financed by a half-cent sales tax increase.
Why the Vikings objected to paying $400 million for a Minneapolis stadium but are willing to put up $407 million for one in Arden Hills is a mystery, unless 1) they really, really don’t want to have to play at the U of M stadium for three years; 2) they really, really want to play in the burbs where there’s ample room for parking and tailgating; or 3) they were offended that Minneapolis came up with its plan without them, while Ramsey County said “please” and “thank you.”
In any case, there’s still one thing the Ramsey County plan hasn’t got: actual money. To get that, the state legislature will have to approve both $300 million in state funding and a get-out-of-referendum-free card for Ramsey County, which otherwise would be required by law to hold a public vote to raise its sales tax. Both of those items are included in the Rosen bill; however, last we checked in the bill was getting extremely lukewarm reviews, and it has only until a week from next Monday to make it through committee and to a vote. (Though this latest announcement will likely light a fire under some legislators, especially those from Ramsey County who dig football and higher sales taxes.)
If nothing else, Zygi Wilf and his crew have pulled off an impressive come-from-behind drive: Just two months after it looked like a Vikings stadium bill was dead for this year, now the team owners have at least an outside shot of getting something passed, NFL lockout be damned; and if not, they still got a jump start on a city-vs-suburb bidding war to whip up in earnest for 2012. If they’re thinking long-term &mdash and most sports owners worth their salt are able to do so when it comes to stadium deals — that’s a win for the Wilfs, regardless of how things turn out in the legislature the next two weeks.