Minneapolis and Ramsey County hurriedly retooled competing plans Wednesday to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, although both appeared to have continuing flaws. Meanwhile a sudden, last-minute bid from Shakopee could complicate the race. Racing to meet a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline set by Gov. Mark Dayton, city and county officials said they expected to work nearly up to the deadline. As many as five locations -- including three in Minneapolis -- are in play.Shakopee? Yes, Shakopee. Scott County. Closer, in some cases, to the ticket-buying base than Arden Hills is. And they do have the land for parking. So, whaddya say, Vikings?
The Vikings, meanwhile, say they still prefer a $1.1 billion stadium in Ramsey County's Arden Hills, and brushed aside Wednesday's proposal by Shakopee officials to build a $920 million stadium in Scott County backed by racino money.Of course they do. Nothing has really changed, because the Vikings want the big score, which is the development potential in Arden Hills. Real estate developers like real estate they can develop. That's what you get in Arden Hills. A few comments are in order:
- If anyone tells you, and that includes the Vikings, that this is about building a "people's stadium" for the benefit of the State of Minnesota, they are lying. It's never been the case.
- Beyond the lack of development potential, the main reason the Vikings haven't been all that interested in the Metrodome site is that they need the Metrodome, as it is currently configured, to remain operational while their new palace is built. Why is that? The Vikings may not want to play in the Metrodome long-term, but they can live with it for now. The Vikings would lose money, rather a lot of it, if they have to play at TCF Bank Stadium for a 2-4 years. And while we are throwing around huge numbers for costs, there's a difference between a capital budget and an operating budget. If the Vikes had to play at TCF, it would hurt their current operating receipts. That is precisely why the Vikings released the letter on Tuesday that outlines those issues. They have to be polite for the moment, but they have no intention of taking a multi-year haircut.
- Every site in consideration assumes income that likely won't be available. I don't see the Ramsey County food/beverage tax plan getting anywhere. While racino is a possibility, it's hardly a slam dunk. The tribes that are making the money on gambling now don't want to take a haircut, either, and they have plenty of friends in the Lege. And the three-card monte game that Minneapolis officials are playing won't ever produce the revenue they claim it will.
- Because of these factors, we need to be up front -- the state would likely end up paying both the supposed "state" portion and whatever "local" funding source is involved. So you can assume that the overall cost to the state, at any location, is going to be around $750 million. You can ask the Vikings to make up the overage, but you can also ask to be named King of Portugal. Neither request is likely to get a favorable response.
- You may not have noticed this, but the San Diego Chargers announced that they are staying in San Diego for the 2012 season. The Chargers are, along with the Vikings, the most likely potential team to consider a move to Los Angeles. The Vikings haven't said where they will be.