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Published May 10, 2011, 01:32 PM

Analysis finds high costs at proposed Vikings site

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton released results of a study Tuesday finding it would cost the state at least $175 million, and possibly more, to fix highways and roads around the proposed site of a Vikings stadium in Ramsey County.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton released results of a study Tuesday finding it would cost the state at least $175 million, and possibly more, to fix highways and roads around the proposed site of a Vikings stadium in Ramsey County.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation analysis found that improving traffic capacity around the former Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills would rise to $240 million if the project includes other amenities like restaurants, hotels and entertainment destinations. That's most of the proposed $300 million cap on the state share for stadium construction that Dayton said he won't support exceeding.

"Clearly if one project is more expensive than the other, then the Vikings are going to have to make up that difference unless a local partner will," Dayton said.

Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Dayton said he spoke to Bagley and team owner Zygi Wilf on Tuesday morning and understood they planned an announcement on their stadium push later in the day.

While the transportation cost analysis appeared to be a new obstacle to the Ramsey County site, several county commissioners said afterward that talks with the team were continuing and that a deal appeared to be close.

"When we come out with our proposal, you'll see how we deal with those costs," Commissioner Rafael Ortega said. He said the transportation costs were not among the final sticking points in talks with the team, but would not say what was still at issue.

On Monday, Minneapolis officials unveiled their own proposal to keep the team in the city by building at the current Metrodome site. But Vikings officials were cool to that proposal, saying the proposed team share of $400 million was too high, and Bagley said talks with Ramsey County would continue.

Ramsey County officials have suggested a half-cent county sales tax increase to pay the local share. Under a bill pending at the Legislature, the state share of $300 million would be raised by a 10 percent state sales tax on sports memorabilia, a sales tax on luxury seats at the new stadium and on digital video recorders, and proceeds from stadium naming rights and a football-themed state lottery game.

The Vikings have been seeking a replacement for the Metrodome for about a decade, saying the venue is no longer sufficiently profitable. While team officials once expressed a preference for staying at the Metrodome site, recent weeks have seen a growing emphasis on the Ramsey County which would offer the possibility of a much larger stadium complex.

Dayton said he believed the whole deal could come together in the less than two weeks left in the legislative session.

"I think it's very possible and very doable," Dayton said. "It's also possible that it won't."

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