Is There Some Flex in the Arden Hills Plan?

The Vikings are reportedly open to changes in their deal with Ramsey County, specifically regarding how the stadium would be operated. An unrelated media report examines the necessary cleanup-and its price tag-of the contaminated Arden Hills site.

The Minnesota Vikings' proposal to build a stadium in Arden Hills faces a variety of obstacles, but a recent media report says the team might be willing to compromise on how the stadium would be operated.

A story by the Pioneer Press indicates that the Vikings and Ramsey County might be willing to alter some aspects of their agreement.

Governor Mark Dayton and some lawmakers have suggested that the existing agreement would grant the Vikings too much control, according to the St. Paul newspaper.

The agreement currently states that the NFL team would operate the stadium and get “all revenues. . . including signage, naming rights, etc.” The team says that it will cost $14 million a year to operate the stadium, and it will cover $12.5 million, meaning “there's no windfall here for the team.” The agreement essentially grants the team the revenues in exchange for paying the operating costs.

A team spokesman told the Pioneer Press that the Vikings would entertain a different model, but “the question is who pays for those operating costs.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Arden Hills plan is road work. The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Wednesday said that road construction costs associated with the stadium would carry a $131 million price tag.

But another costly aspect of the plan-which is more expensive than the City of Minneapolis' proposal for a stadium at the Metrodome site-involves cleanup of the Arden Hills property.

In a press conference earlier this month, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf opted for the Arden Hills plan over the Metrodome site due in large part to its expansiveness and its ability to host tailgating.

But the site where football fans may eventually enjoy hamburgers and hotdogs is currently contaminated with mercury, lead, solvents, and other hazardous remnants from when it was home to a U.S. Army munitions plant, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

The Army has spent roughly $200 million to clean up much of the contamination and prepare the land for industrial use, but additional cleanup would likely be required before it could host the public for football games, the Star Tribune reports.

The recently unveiled $1 billion Arden Hills plan from the Vikings and Ramsey County allocates about $18 million to cleaning up the site. But officials told the Minneapolis newspaper that the price is a rough estimate. How much cleanup is necessary-and its cost-depends on a variety of factors, including how much of the land is used and the results of additional soil tests.

Ted Mondale, Minnesota sports facilities commissioner, told the Star Tribune that the cleanup cost represents some of the project's risk, but his research indicates that the $18 million projection is sound.

The property is designated as a “Superfund” site-meaning it was polluted enough to be named a priority by the federal government for legally supervised cleanups. That fact has been a roadblock for previous development plans for the site.

Learn more about the previous developments that were derailed, as well as additional information about the site's history, here.