St. Paul Vikings?
The Legislature is evidently too busy writing discrimination into the state constitution these days to take up the Vikings stadium bill, but the wheeling and dealing over the facility's location -- and who benefits -- continues behind the scenes.
Can you say, "St. Paul Vikings?"
There's talk that the team and Ramsey County are tantalizingly close to announcing a deal to locate the stadium in Arden Hills.
"The Vikings like the Arden Hills site," Ted Mondale told the Pioneer Press. "It would be a Vikings place. It wouldn't have to compete with other interests in the way it might at other sites."
Sweetening that deal: Unlike Hennepin County, Ramsey is reportedly trying to work out a share of the funding package as outlined in the bill submitted a few weeks ago in the Legislature. The bill would have the Vikings, and their potential host county and city work out a three-way split to finance the almost $1 billion package.
Then yesterday, planning firm Albersman & Armstrong and investor Bruce Lambrecht have just published a study concluding that the best location for the stadium is the roughly 47-acres centered on the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. But these are the same investors behind Target Field, which squats just a few blocks to the east of the Farmer's Market, so make of that proposal what you will. Lambrecht told MPR he has has no investments in the neighborhood.
The Lambrecht plan calls for the Vikings stadium to be located on the site of the Minneapolis Farmer's Market, next to Target field.
There's also no money behind the proposal.
Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak has stated repeatedly that the city is not going to help finance a Vikings stadium after already suffering major budget cuts at the hands of the Legislature. And, Rybak favors the Metrodome site anyway.
If the city isn't going to be a financial player in the stadium's construction, that would leave Hennepin County. But County Board chairman Mike Opat is firmly against the Metrodome site -- an "island in the middle of downtown" -- and more in favor of the Farmer's Market plan.
Meanwhile, time is running out for a deal that will keep the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota. The Legislature wraps up business later this month, and the Vikings bill still hasn't even been scheduled for a hearing.