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Updated: June 13th, 2011 6:22pm
Vikings, Ramsey County unveil joint plan for financing road upgrades

Vikings, Ramsey County unveil joint plan for financing road upgrades

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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The user-based financing proposal the Minnesota Vikings began floating at the Legislature last week became public on Monday, when the team and Ramsey County jointly unveiled a plan for covering up to $131 million in off-site transportation upgrades to support a $1.057 billion stadium project in Arden Hills.

"Despite the fact that many of the long-term road improvements will serve a much broader public purpose and help address transportation needs for the entire region regardless of a stadium," the Vikings said in a statement released on their Web site, "the plan follows the theme of 'those who use or benefit from the stadium pay.'"

Per the team, the plan unveiled on Monday would "generate up to $81 million in user-based funding and rely on regional and federal transportation-related grants for the remaining $50 million."

The user-based portion would be paid off through stadium-related sales taxes and surcharges and a county car sales excise tax, with Ramsey County either issuing bonds or receiving an interest-free state loan from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which quickly expressed concerns that many of the funding mechanisms proposed would fall under the state's spending cap of $300 million.

The Vikings already have pledged $407 million toward the $1.057 billion project, with Ramsey County committing another $350 million. But that didn't include the contested price tag of upgrades to roads -- specifically the I-35/Hwy. 10 interchange near the stadium site in Arden Hills -- that MnDOT has estimated at $110 million to $131 million.

"We continue to respond to every request State leaders make, " Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said in a statement. "We found a strong local partner and the best stadium site, made significant financial commitments from both the team and the County, and now we have provided a creative finance proposal to resolve the off-site transportation needs."

Friday is viewed by some as an unofficial deadline for the team and the county to put together a stadium bill that could be considered in a special session of the Legislature, which needs to resolve a $5 billion budget deficit by July 1 to avoid a government shutdown.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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