Dayton urges lawmakers to vote on a Vikings’ stadium proposal

Another twist as Gov. Dayton pushes Metrodome site

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

Tuesday, Jan. 24, Gov. Mark Dayton retraced the factors that led him to abandon the Linden Avenue site in downtown Minneapolis — the proposed Vikings’ stadium site he has gently leaned towards — to the conclusion the only chance of success this legislative session lies with the Metrodome.

Dayton spoke on the eve of a visit to Minnesota by Vikings’ owners Zygi and Mark Wilf for a meeting with Dayton stadium point man Ted Mondale, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, the governor and legislative leaders.

Dayton talked with team owner Zygi Wilf on Monday afternoon, sensing Wilf was not happy with recent stadium developments. “Yes, I think they’re disappointed, frustrated,” Dayton said.

There’s been many twists and curves, he said of the stadium debate.

Dayton met with Rev. John Bauer, rector of The Basilica of Saint Mary — the iconic church that would be impacted by the Linden Avenue stadium proposal — and left the meeting last week convinced the problems associated with the Linden Avenue proposal while all solvable would take too much time.

Church officials have expressed concerns over the construction of a stadium only 300 feet away from the basilica and noise and traffic congestion damaging the neighborhood.

The proposed Arden Hills’ stadium site — the location favored by the Vikings — is a solid proposal, Dayton said. But the unwillingness of lawmakers to allow Ramsey County to raise local taxes without a referendum has rendered the site unobtainable, he concluded.

Dayton urged the Republican legislature to take up the stadium issue and “vote it up or down this session.”

But House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, cautioned against an ill-timed vote. “We don’t want to do that,” he said. “What if it’s ‘No,’ and the Vikings leave tomorrow?”

“Just because people are frustrated about something doesn’t mean we have to vote on it, particularly if it’s a bad idea,” he said.

No one wants the Vikings to leave Minnesota — be sold off like Norman Green sold off the Minnesota North Stars, Dean said.

“So we don’t want that to happen. But that doesn’t mean we’re chumps,” he said.

Some members of the public feel a sense of urgency on finding a stadium solution — we get that, Dean said.

But most Minnesotans are more concerned about their jobs, their homes holding value, their personal finances, he said.

It’s “absolutely” possible the Vikings’ stadium issue will not be resolved this legislative session, he said. But he argues the team will be in Minnesota at least for a few more years.

A north metro lawmaker, Dean indicated support for developing the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant land at Arden Hills. “So I’d like to see something happen with that, at least the portion of the property close to (Highway) 10,” he said. “(But) I would like to see private dollars, private developers.”