The Minnesota Vikings welcomed a $44 million drop in estimated road improvement costs for a proposed $1 billion Arden Hills stadium, even if team officials don't yet know how to finance the enhancements.That's the headline, but as usual the local media buried the lede:
"It's progress and this makes it more manageable," Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said Wednesday after the state Department of Transportation released the lower estimate of $131 million, down from a minimum of $175 million. The estimate doesn't include $20 million in Interstate 35W improvements that were already in the works.
Dayton and the legislative sponsors told the Wilfs the state needs to be "full partners" in a new stadium's construction, ownership and operations. That vision doesn't entirely align with the agreement between the team and Ramsey County that gives the Vikings sole authority over construction and design.Emphasis mine. As we've mentioned throughout this series, the notion that somehow, some way Minneapolis can get back into the game is a non-starter. The Wilfs want that parking money and not only on game days. It's huge. Minneapolis can't provide it. Minneapolis can provide light rail, but it's a meaningless amenity to the Vikings and, truth be told, a detriment to any deal. If there was any doubt about that, Bagley has now put it to rest.
The letter, signed by Dayton, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said they are "neutral about where the Minnesota Vikings make their new home, so long as it is Minnesota."
Bagley said, "The solution is to make Arden Hills work. The solution is not to kill Arden Hills and bring the Minneapolis deal in the back door. The Minneapolis proposal is not viable. Introducing a Minneapolis bill makes no sense and we will not support it."
The list of improvements is interesting, too:
The latest roads proposal includes improvements at the Interstate 694/35W interchange, auxiliary lanes on 35W, reconstruction of the 35W/County Road 96 interchange and the Hwy. 10 site entrance. An internal site road is estimated at $5 million. The roads will be updated to accommodate some 21,000 cars expected to be driven to gamesWhether the Vikings deal happens or it doesn't, most of these changes are long overdue in any event. The only change that wouldn't have happened anyway is the entrance from Highway 10. Anyone who has traveled on 35W during the rush hour will tell you that the "auxiliary lanes" are long, long overdue, as is work on the 694/35W interchange. But that's another post.