Dayton Requests Fast Review of Arden Hills Proposal

The review, which Metropolitan Sports Commission Chairman Ted Mondale thinks will take 30 to 40 days, could pave the way for a special legislative session to address the proposal this fall.

Governor Mark Dayton has requested an immediate review of the Minnesota Vikings stadium proposal for Arden Hills-a move that could be a precursor to a fall special session.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Dayton directed two people, Metropolitan Council Chairwoman Susan Haigh and Metropolitan Sports Commission Chairman Ted Mondale, to conduct a thorough analysis of the risks and costs associated with the site, according to the Star Tribune.

The goal, Dayton reportedly said, is to remove “as many uncertainties as possible before a transaction is finalized.”

According to the Star Tribune, the letter said: “At a minimum, an analysis of potential risks should include, but not be limited to, an examination of the requirements of an Environmental Impact Statement and Alternative Urban Areawide Review, remediation needs, transportation needs, costs and cost-overrun exposures, scheduling issues, funding projections, and permitting and approval issues for each of the local, metropolitan, state, and federal jurisdictions involved.”

In May, Ramsey County and the Vikings announced an agreement to build the stadium in Arden Hills. But the proposed deal includes state funding, and the Minnesota Legislature didn't give it much discussion during this year's regular session as Republicans and Democrats fought about the state's two-year budget. The stadium wasn't discussed at a special session last month either, but Dayton has indicated that he's open to the possibility of a fall special session to talk about the stadium. However, he previously called the stadium plan “incomplete and unsatisfactory.”

The $1 billion stadium proposal for a former munitions site in Arden Hills includes a $350 million contribution from Ramsey County that would be raised through a countywide half-cent sales tax increase. The St. Paul City Council and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman both oppose the tax increase.

Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley told the Star Tribune that the team appreciates the fact that Dayton sent the letter. “Once we get through this [review], we should be in a position to address the stadium issue this fall,” he said.

Mondale told the Minneapolis newspaper: “We're working to button up a deal as fast as possible.” He said he expects the review to take 30 to 40 days-and he thinks the biggest issue in future discussions about the stadium proposal will be transportation and roads. Design plans will require approvals from the federal government, as well as the state, county, and city.

Dayton has previously said that the state will contribute no more than $300 million for the stadium, including roads, but highway upgrade estimates have varied by tens of millions of dollars. The governor also has expressed concern that revenue streams included in the stadium proposal-which include a tax on pro bono sports memorabilia, a Vikings lottery game, and a player income-tax surcharge-may not be enough to fund the state's portion, according to the Star Tribune.

Mondale said that pollution remediation and costs are also yet-to-be-resolved issues.

To read more in the Star Tribune about Dayton's letter and the status of the Vikings stadium proposal, click here.