Gov. Mark Dayton talks up Linden Avenue site for Vikings stadium
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If concerns about the Linden Avenue site are answered, Gov. Mark Dayton said on Wednesday that would be his preferred location for a Minnesota Vikings stadium project proponents still hope to resolve early in the Legislative session that begins next week.
"We are close," Dayton said. "It's first-and-goal and we are the 5-yard line."
Dayton all but ruled out the Vikings' preferred site in Arden Hills and referred to Mayor R.T. Rybak's preference to renovate the Metrodome as a "default" option with limited opportunities for economic development.
The governor also called on the Vikings to disclose their planned contribution to the "only two feasible sites" at Linden Avenue and the Metrodome, unless the team is willing to nearly double its contribution to the Arden Hills project to $700 million.
Dayton said the Linden Avenue site offers "significant advantages" over the Metrodome site, in particular its potential for economic development and proximity to existing restaurants and other attractions. He pointed out the Metrodome, built in 1982, has yet to spur the same type of development on the eastern end of downtown.
However, Dayton also noted the rector of the nearby Basilica of St. Mary's has raised "serious concerns" about the project that need to be answered and due diligence to be completed before he can recommend the site to the Legislature, which reconvenes on Tuesday.
In an interview with 1500 ESPN on Tuesday night, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak reiterated the city's preference for an $895 million stadium project that would renovate the Metrodome and Target Center.
"I know that we have a great plan in Minneapolis," Rybak told 1500 ESPN on Tuesday night. "I believe it should be at the Metrodome, which is -- the land is assembled, it's in the public domain, it's the cheapest place to build it, we can do it the fastest, the Vikings can get back in there."
However, the Vikings expressed concerns last week in a letter to Rybak and Council President Barbara Johnson, saying there are $67 million in unaccounted costs that push the price tag of the project to $962 million.
That includes revenue limitations and necessary capital improvements at TCF Bank Stadium, where the Vikings would have to play for three years while the Dome is out of commission.
"They have a legitimate point that doing that has them playing at TCF for a couple years," Rybak said. "That's a challenge for them. I understand that. It's kind of an opportunity, too, but that's a problem."
Dayton left an opening for Arden Hills but only if one of three long-shot measures can be taken: legislative leaders change their stance on a local tax increase without a referendum, the county finds another financing option or Vikings owners increase their contribution to $700 million.
He also dismissed Shakopee's proposal, which relies on an expansion of gambling for its local portion, and other ideas filed before last week's deadline.