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March 14, 2011
Timberwolves "solution": Add NBA arena renovations to Vikings stadium plan
There's a new player in the Minnesota Vikings stadium battle, and it's an unexpected one: the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to a document entitled "Global Solution" that was published by Minneapolis Public Radio late Friday, the Wolves owners are proposing a new regional stadium authority that would build a new football stadium for the Vikings, a new minor-league stadium for the St. Paul Saints, and renovate the NBA team's Target Center. Total price tag: a mere $1,173,000,000. And that's without a roof on the Vikings stadium.
Since the Wolves only envision the teams chipping in one-quarter of the resulting $100-million-a-year cost, that leaves $74 million a year to come from what's listed as "Public Funding Source (TBD)." Timberwolves vice president Ted Johnson told MPR that among the taxpayer funding streams being considered are a 0.2% sales tax hike in the metro area, tobacco settlement funds that would otherwise go into the general treasury, revenue from a downtown casino, and a Vikings-themed lottery game. Johnson said the funding details were dropped from the final document because "we got too far ahead of ourselves" and "we didn't feel like everybody had time to line up behind it."
Add it all up, and we have a plan that costs nearly half a billion dollars more than the old plan, that has a warmed-over list of old ideas for ways to pay for it, and that didn't even specifically mention those ideas even in a non-public document because the Wolves don't have any support for them. Now that's headline news.
In other Vikings stadium news, the Associated Press reports that people in Minnesota would love a new Vikings stadium, so long as they're not the ones paying for it. Which, funny enough, is exactly the same way the Vikings owners feel about it.