CHICAGO — With the clock ticking on the Minnesota Legislature’s spring session, representatives from the Minnesota Vikings and Ramsey County met with key lawmakers Wednesday to promote their proposal to build a publicly subsidized $1 billion stadium in the Twin Cities suburb of Arden Hills.
The Vikings and county officials unveiled their plan Tuesday, one day after a competing one was floated by Minneapolis. The National Football League team initially held talks with Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, and Ramsey County, which includes St. Paul, before settling on a partnership with Ramsey.
Under their jointly developed plan, the county would finance $350 million of the project with a bond issue, the team would contribute $407 million and the state would provide $300 million.
Ramsey County would impose a 0.5% sales tax, 50 cents on every $100, to repay the bonds.
Officials touted the plan for a 65,000-seat multi-purpose stadium as one that would create 7,500 construction jobs over a three-year period and generate nearly $26 million annually in taxes in addition to $145 million in direct spending by Vikings fans.
A new stadium ensures the team will stay in Minnesota and remain competitive with other NFL franchises, officials said. Seating capacity could be expanded to 72,000 to host the Super Bowl.
The team said it prefers the suburban site on a former munitions plant offered by Ramsey for a stadium with a retractable roof. It offers plenty of parking and is 10 miles from Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The team currently plays at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. The city on Monday proposed a plan to redevelop the current site with a $895 million stadium. That plan would require the team play elsewhere for several years during construction.
“We believe we have selected the ideal site here in Arden Hills,” Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said. “This establishes a venue for the next generation that our kids and ourselves can be very proud of.”
Under Minneapolis’ proposal, the city would pay $195 million while the team would be expected to pick up $400 million and the state $300 million. The city’s share would be repaid with revenues from a series of taxes, including a 0.15% citywide sales tax equal to 15 cents on $100.
Tough obstacles remain for both plans. Lawmakers on Wednesday questioned where an estimated $175 million to $240 million would come from to finance transportation improvements needed at the Arden Hills site to support traffic demands.
Both plans require the support of their local councils and members who oppose public subsidies for stadiums sit on both. Several state lawmakers last month introduced legislation paving the way for a Vikings stadium funding package, but lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn later this month and are still grappling over how to eliminate a $5 billion budget deficit.
The state package provides up to $300 million through a series of user fees that could include a sports memorabilia tax, a Vikings lottery game, naming rights, a sales tax on luxury boxes, and a tax on football players’ income to repay bonds that would be issued by the Metropolitan Council.
It requires a site host government to cover one-third of the cost and bid for the project. Gov. Mark Dayton said he could support either plan as long as the state contribution is limited to $300 million.