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September 26, 2011

Minneapolis Mayor: We paid for the Metrodome, we should get the sale money

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak threw another wrench into the already wrench-laden Minnesota Vikings stadium plan by insisting that if the Metrodome is sold, the proceeds go to his city, not to fund a new stadium in suburban Ramsey County. "We hit the roof when we heard there was a plan to take proceeds from the Metrodome and use it to build a stadium in Arden Hills," Rybak declared last Wednesday. (Yes, sorry, just catching up a bit here.) That money, he said, "does not belong to someone trying to move a business out of our city. And we will fight it every step of the way."

Rybak apparently has a case: State law says that if the Metrodome is sold, Minneapolis and Hennepin County each get $5 million from the proceeds. The mayor, however, wants an additional $25 million on top of that, on the grounds that the rest of the sale money is supposed to repay stadium debt — which was paid out by the city. Vikings stadium exec Lester Bagley retorts that since the Metrodome is already paid off, the money could be used to pay debt on a new stadium elsewhere.

I'd say that the whole thing is likely to end up in court, except that most of it is probably political posturing: Rybak is no doubt hoping to use his leverage with the state stadium-sale law to push the already-teetering Ramsey County plan into the scrap heap, and get attention refocused on the possibility of a new or renovated stadium in Minneapolis. And while $35 million is kind of a drop in the bucket in the context of a $1.03 billion stadium project, drops can add up.

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