The hits just keep on coming for the Arden Hills Minnesota Vikings stadium plan:
“I am generally not supportive of spending $300 million at this time for a Vikings facility.” —St. Paul City Council president Kathy Lantry
“It is important to a whole lot of people, but the Ramsey County proposal is a complicated one. I need to know those [sales tax] numbers. What are they asking the residents and the people shopping in St. Paul to pay? What are the benefits of the Arden Hills site to St. Paul?” —St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
Of the county’s 22 state representatives and senators, 18 responded to a Pioneer Press survey asking whether they supported the current county-Vikings proposal. … Only one, freshman Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, supported it, although Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, said he’s “strongly considering it.” Two lawmakers said they hadn’t decided. Fourteen said they oppose it, with many responding via email with capital letters: “NO.” —St. Paul Pioneer Press
Now, of course, there’s no reason a Ramsey County Vikings bill can’t get through the state legislature without the support of elected officials from Ramsey County or St. Paul (which is the county’s largest city). Still, having seemingly every politician around hating on the bill isn’t exactly a good start, especially when there’s only a week and a half to get the thing passed. It’s notable that the chair of the state house transportation committee, Rep. Michael Beard, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that one option could be to send “some signals” to the Vikings this year and then pass a bill in 2012: “We have time to get [the details] teed up next year yet.”
Speaking of the details, more are emerging with the release of the Ramsey County term sheet:
- As part of the deal, Ramsey County will buy the 430-acre Arden Hills site from the U.S. Army “on terms acceptable to the Parties,” then turn around and sell 170 acres to the Vikings for a pro-rated price. Cost overruns on land acquisition similarly get split on a 170/430 basis.
- The Vikings pay cost overruns on the stadium itself, but they have a big out: “If the Team determines a retractable roof is not economically or otherwise feasible, the Team may decide to develop the Stadium with a fixed roof.” The Vikings get to keep the first $41 million in cost savings from a cheaper project, splitting anything over that evenly with the county.
- The team will pay no rent, but will cover operating expenses, though the county will kick in $1.5 million a year toward those as well.
- “The County and Team shall jointly seek to exempt from sales taxes building materials purchased for the Stadium and related improvements.” That’s not a huge subsidy, but given past precedent it could amount to an extra $10 million or so from the state.
- “All revenues (net of generally applicable taxes, fees, etc.) derived from the operations of the Stadium and parking facilities including signage, naming rights, etc. shall belong to the Team.” That’s rather a big deal, given that the Rosen bill says that naming rights belong to the state; if the state balks at this provision, it could potentially an additional funding gap of $100 million or more.
Add in that estimated $175 million cost of new roads that no one’s figured out how to pay for yet, and there are still a ton of questions to be resolved about this plan, and not a lot of time in which to resolve them. No wonder Beard is already looking ahead to a Plan B.