Shakopee officials want a Vikings’ stadium built in their city

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

A tweet between newly elected Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke and Minnesota Vikings’ stadium activists sparked a rush of activity that short days later resulted Shakopee officials walking into the Governor’s Office with the latest stadium proposal in hand.

The city of Shakopee is proposing a new Minnesota Vikings’ stadium be built on 130-acres of privately owned land at the intersection of Highway 169 and 101 in Shakopee.

“We believe what we have is the best plan,” said Tabke, speaking at a Capitol press conference today (Jan. 11) on the eve of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s deadline for submission of Vikings’ stadium proposals to his office.

The proposed Shakopee stadium site is located near Valleyfair and the horse track at Canterbury Park.

Shakopee officials describe the city as an entertainment corridor — capable of 22,000 parking spots, boasting four major highway points of entry and requiring less infrastructure investment for a stadium than at Arden Hills or in Downtown Minneapolis, indicated House transportation committee Chairman Michael Beard, R-Shakopee, who backs the proposal.

“I think people of good will can make that happen,” said Beard of finding a stadium solution in the upcoming legislative session.

Keying on estimates made for a stadium proposal for the Metrodome, Shakopee officials place the total cost of building a Vikings’ stadium in their city at $920 million.

“We know how to handle a lot of people coming to our town,” said Tabke.

Angie Whitcomb, Shakopee Chamber and Visitors Bureau president, argued the city is already a cradle of entertainment.

“People know who we are,” she said.

“Our business community is poised and ready,” said Whitcomb of welcoming a new stadium and football fans.

Shakopee officials style the financing mechanism behind the their stadium proposal as simple.

It calls for an up front investment of $400 million by the Vikings, and looks to a blend of racino revenue and user-based fees to finance the public portion of stadium costs.

In terms of user-fees, Shakopee officials look to state lottery scratch-off games, stadium ticket surcharges, stadium naming rights’ revenue, and Vikings’ license plate sales as sources of funding.

They look to racino — revenue from slot machines at the horse track — to kick-in $45 million for a one-time down payment towards stadium construction.

They also look to racino to provide $20 million a year towards paying for the stadium.

Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, suggested racino revenues could not only be used to finance the stadium but pay down the $2 billion in K-12 funding shifts recently crafted by lawmakers.

Previously, she did not have a favorite stadium location, Robling explained.

“But I do now,” she said, backing Shakopee.

“I can’t guarantee anything,” she said of pitching the Shakopee stadium proposal to Senate Republican leaders.

“It’s a good idea,” she said.

Shakopee stadium backers agreed the financing mechanism in their proposal could be used to finance stadium construction at any location.

But Beard spoke of bringing a “fresh approach,” adding there aren’t the negative “vibes” in Shakopee against building a new stadium felt in other communities.

Dayton indicated today he would give the Shakopee stadium proposal consideration.

“They’re within the deadline I established,” he said.

The proposal has prominent lawmakers backing it, said Dayton, noting Robling and Beard.

“It’s a serious proposal,” he said.

Tabke tweeted SavetheVikes a week ago yesterday trying to advance a Shakopee stadium proposal, asking whether the organization could help the city.

Tabke has been mayor for one week.

Cory Merrifield, founder of SavetheVikes, said the organization was glad to offer assistance.

But it has no preferred stadium location, he said.