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May 16, 2011

Could Ramsey County residents force a Vikings stadium vote?

That get-out-of-vote-free card that some Minnesota state legislators want to hand to whatever county agrees to build a new Vikings stadium may not be worth as much as they'd hoped. The new group No Vikings Tax (self-described as "a project of several neighborhood activists and community organizers") say that they can use county and city charters in Ramsey County and Minneapolis to effectively overturn any no-vote legislation passed by the state:

Opponents say those charters allow them to collect enough voter signatures (about 10 percent of registered voters) to place a referendum on the next election ballot that would overturn any state measure that bans a referendum on the stadium. If successful, they then allow a public vote on any ordinances passed to fund the project.
"We could usurp their usurpation," said Chris David, head of the small group, which met to plot strategies to get the Vikings and their owners to pay the entire cost of a new stadium.

A referendum campaign would require about 25,000 signatures to get on the ballot in Ramsey County, or 8,500 in Minneapolis. If successful, even putting the referendum on the ballot would be enough to put a stadium bill on hold until a public vote is held.

In other Vikings stadium news, Gov. Mark Dayton became the latest elected official to say he isn't crazy about the Ramsey County financing plan, since it gives too much stadium revenue to the team, and puts the state on the hook for both $300 million in stadium costs and as much as $240 million in new roads — $300 million, declared Dayton, is "absolutely the limit" for the state's contribution.

Meanwhile, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that "nearby cities" are hoping that a Vikings stadium in Ramsey County could help spur other development ... though the only person saying this in the article, it turns out, is the VP of a local commercial real estate firm. Also, the "other development" is the rest of the Arden Hills ammo plant site, much of which is polluted, and "the remaining [cleanup] costs chased away a developer a few years ago," according to the Pioneer Press.

The Vikings would control development of the site, and have presented a plan for retail, restaurants, a movie theater, and parking — none of which really will benefit from a football stadium next door, because who's going to open a movie theater on the off chance that on ten Sundays a year, Vikings fans will decide they want to take in The Hangover Part VII after the game? It's always possible that the site is ripe for retail development, but if so, then there's no need to build a stadium there to jump-start it; and if not, then ... ballpark village, anyone?


Happy to see the Vikings can still plunder a hapless village. Odin would be proud.

Posted by Dave on May 16, 2011 08:43 AM

I just signed up to collect signatures for a referendum. Getting 8500 for Minneapolis will be a cakewalk. I figure I could get that many myself in an afternoon.

Best news I've heard all year!

Posted by Geoff on May 16, 2011 10:27 AM

I would like to take this opportunity to proclaim my unending love for "No Vikings Tax." They are wonderful, and I hope this fever spreads.

Please send someone to Sacramento. Pretty please?

Again, I'm just a guy, and won't be able to afford to stop this... But I will actively participate.

In case you missed it, one David J Stern sent his own love letter to Sacramento over the weekend:

It's looking more and more to me that some sort of vote will be required. No matter what route they take, some "small" part of this equation will trigger a vote. That's probably going to be the tactic: "And all we need is this tiny tax hike right here to get the other 90% of the plan to work. Won't you support this today?".

Posted by MikeM on May 16, 2011 02:07 PM

Neil, that's a cheap shot at Ballpark Village. There's all kinds of stuff happening there that you don't see because you don't live here. They put up a temporary chain link fence around the exclusive community and sometimes, if you're really lucky, you watch workers pump excess water off the site. Plus, the fence helps ensure that there won't be any big buildings that might block your view of the ballpark.

Posted by adam on May 16, 2011 02:27 PM

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