Just a day after Minneapolis revealed a proposal for a revamped stadium on the current Metrodome site, the Minnesota Vikings announced that they are partnering with Ramsey County to build a stadium at the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) in Arden Hills.
In a press conference at 3pm Tuesday, Zygi Wilf, Mark Wilf, Leslie Frazier, Bud Grant, and Jim Marshall joined Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega in announcing their proposal to build a retractable roof, multi-purpose stadium in Arden Hills. In a press release earlier in the day Zygi Wilf said:
Reaching an agreement with Ramsey County as our local partner is a major milestone in our efforts to finalize a long-term stadium solution, and we are pleased to have found such a strong and forthright partner. While we certainly appreciate the proposal by the City of Minneapolis, as well as the recent efforts by Hennepin County, we believe the Ramsey County site offers the most benefits to our fans, the team and the State and is the ideal site for a new stadium.
More details after the jump.
The Vikings and Ramsey County have been negotiating this deal for about a year and have come to an agreement for an $884 million stadium with the total cost of the development projected at $1.057 billion. This plan would call for the Vikings to shoulder $407 million of the cost of the construction. That translates to 44% of the cost of the stadium and 39% of the overall cost of the project. As the local equity partner, Ramsey County would provide their contribution to the project via a sales tax. Governor Mark Dayton has said that the state will contribute $300 million to the project.
During the press conference, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said that what the Vikings liked about the Arden Hills site is that it would allow them to bring back the tailgating tradition that Vikings fans have been missing since the team moved into the Metrodome 30 years ago. Jim Marshall said that at the old Metropolitan Stadium the players walked up to the stadium through the tailgating fans and it created a bond. With the proposal for the Arden Hills site, there will be 21,000 tailgating spaces available so fans can reclaim the tailgating tradition.
While critics of the Arden Hills site have been quick to point out that it does not have the benefit of being in an urban area the way the Minneapolis Farmers Market site did or the current Metrodome site does, the Vikings pointed out that the TCAAP site is only 10 miles from both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Zygi Wilf also stated that because of the height of parts of the Arden Hills site, it may be that the stadium will have scenic views of both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Politicians and team owners alike outlined the many different sporting events that this retractable roof stadium will be able to host, fulfilling Governor Dayton's belief that any stadium using public funds should be a "people's stadium". The stadium could host events like Major League Soccer, the NCAA Final Four, college Bowl games, and even a Super Bowl, as well as high school sporting events.
And, in the same vein as the governor, County Commissioner Tony Bennett said that money to upgrade the surrounding interstates (another focus for critics of the Arden Hills site) should be considered as funding "the people's roads". Bennett went on to say that as far back as 1999 funds were promised to upgrade those roadways and, more than a decade later, they are still waiting. Because interstates near TCAAP are main arteries heading north, they represent an investment in the state of Minnesota's tourism industry as well as providing access to a new stadium.
If this proposal makes it through the Minnesota Legislature, the Vikings could be taking the field in Arden Hills in three years. Jim Marshall said it would be hard to wait that long and the nearly 84-year-old Bud Grant plans to be around for the opening of a new Arden Hills stadium as he was for the opening of the Metrodome.
When asked if the Vikings would be moving their team headquarters from Eden Praire to Arden Hills, Wilf said that the team is happy with their Winter Park facilities and has no plans to move them at this time. However, he went on to say that the Arden Hills site could accommodate the team headquarters if they should deem the move necessary in the future.
Armed with Ramsey County as their local equity partner, it looks like the Minnesota Vikings' stadium bill proposed by Representative Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) and Senator Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) gained crucial specifics. Less than a month remains in the current legislative session.