Coleman’s Stadium Pitch Involves More than the Vikes

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman wants to pay for a Vikings stadium in Minneapolis with a statewide alcohol tax of 2 cents per drink. He also wants to move the state's pro basketball teams from the Target Center to the Xcel Energy Center.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on Wednesday announced a large-scale plan for funding a new Vikings stadium with a new per-drink alcohol tax-but his pitch is a significant departure from plans floated by the Vikings, Ramsey County, and the City of Minneapolis, and it would affect virtually every professional sports team in the state.

Coleman wants to keep the Vikings in Minneapolis, move professional basketball to St. Paul, and build a new St. Paul Saints stadium, among other ambitious plans.

The St. Paul mayor believes that the current proposals for a new NFL stadium-the Vikings-backed Ramsey County plan for an Arden Hills site and the Minneapolis pitch for a stadium downtown-place “an undue burden on one part of Minnesota for the benefit of another.”

The mayor said in a statement that “it is time to move beyond stadium plans with benefits or burdens to only a small part of this state and explore options which benefit all of Minnesota.”

The Ramsey County proposal includes a half-cent sales tax in St. Paul, which Coleman said “is not a good deal” for the city. Meanwhile, the Minneapolis proposal calls for $150 million in spending for the Target Center-which would be “a bad investment for our region,” according to Coleman.

He says building a Vikings stadium in Minneapolis is the most affordable and smartest solution, but his plan calls for a statewide alcohol tax of 2 cents per drink to help fund the state and local portion of the stadium's cost. Additional sources of funding would include a 0.25 percent St. Paul sales-tax hike and an expansion of Minneapolis' downtown sales tax.

Having the state's professional hockey and basketball teams in competing arenas puts the Twin Cities at an economic disadvantage, Coleman asserted. His plan calls for a $75 million retrofit of the Xcel Energy Center and moving the Timberwolves and Lynx from the Target Center to share the St. Paul arena with the NHL's Wild.

In addition to affecting the Timberwolves, Vikings, and Wild, Coleman's plan would also help finance a St. Paul Saints ballpark, contribute to a Greater Minnesota amateur sports fund, and support St. Paul parks and libraries.

To download the details of Coleman's proposal-including a breakdown of how it would affect Minnesota's sports teams-click here.

The key parties that would be affected by Coleman's plan seem to mostly oppose the idea. Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson told the Star Tribune that it would be “ridiculous'” to give up the Target Center. Timberwolves Vice President Ted Johnson told the Minneapolis newspaper that the team is “very happy with our home in Minneapolis” and it supports a renovation of the Target Center.

A spokesman for the Vikings told the Pioneer Press that the team appreciates Coleman's view, “but we're going to Arden Hills.” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told the paper that it would be a mistake to move the Timberwolves, and “the sensible solution is to renovate the Target Center.”

Media reports indicate, however, that some Ramsey County leaders are embracing the idea of a statewide liquor fee to help fund a stadium.

The existing Arden Hills proposal never made it to the state Legislature, which adjourned on Monday without establishing a budget. It's unclear whether the stadium proposal would be heard during a special session.