City Council signs off on Vikings stadium plan

Published 3:26 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings bagged the last political sign-off necessary for their new stadium Friday when the Minneapolis City Council narrowly approved the plan.

The 7-6 vote fell along the same lines as a preliminary vote a day earlier. Mayor R.T. Rybak, who engineered the council majority and teamed with Gov. Mark Dayton this spring as major cheerleaders for the deal, celebrated afterward by swigging Grain Belt beer from a horn in his office.

“This has been a bruising fight,” Rybak told the Star Tribune. “I feel in my gut a little bit like I imagine the Vikings feel after a win.”

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Minneapolis is putting up $150 million for construction of the $975 million stadium, plus $159 million in operating costs later. The city will shift hospitality taxes that currently pay debt on the city convention center. The deal also includes using some of that money to upgrade Target Center, the home of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Vikings are putting $477 million toward construction of the stadium, with most of that expected to come from stadium-related profits. The state’s share is $348 million, projected to come through taxes on expanded charitable gambling.

Rybak repeatedly touted the Vikings as a valuable asset for the city and the stadium as a job-maker — an estimated 7,500 construction jobs. Supporters also pointed out that the Vikings could leave the state without a new stadium.

Opponents on the council said the deal violated a 1997 charter amendment calling for a vote on stadium subsidies above a certain level, an argument rejected by a city attorney. They also said it was simply a bad deal economically.

“This is too much public cost for not enough public benefit,” Council Member Elizabeth Glidden told the Star Tribune. “That is the simplest way to state this.”

The new stadium will be built on the site of the current Metrodome, with a target opening date of 2016.