In what’s become an increasingly familiar story, another major big city sports team, fed up with its literally crumbling stadium, is hearing the siren song of the suburbs.
The drama over the Minnesota Vikings football stadium has been unrolling for a while, but hit a low when the roof of the Metrodome caved in under the weight of accumulated snow in December 2010.
The state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have been trying to find a way to keep the Vikings in town. The latest plan proposes a new stadium next to the old one and ready by 2016. That would leave the Vikings playing in the Metrodome through 2015. The city, though, recently announced that its funding plan was coming up roughly $55 million short. The team, already frustrated with the Metrodome, is keeping its options open.
The most serious competitor is a plan being pushed in Arden Hills, a city about five miles outside of Minneapolis. Ramsey County leaders there have been trying to convince the Vikings to move out of Minneapolis with the prospect of a brand new stadium. This project, expected to cost about $1.1 billion, is the stadium of choice for the Vikings.
Ramsey County says it can afford to help pay for the project by raising about $20 million a year through various taxes and user fees at the proposed stadium. Officials are hoping this revenue-generating plan will convince state and local officials and voters to back the plan with an expected contribution of about $650 million.
The idea of using pull-tab gambling to raise additional funding has also been on the table, but many are concerned about the reliability of such a mechanism.
Officials in the state, and even within the Vikings organization, wonder if Ramsey County’s revenue plans will be able to generate enough money to make the project sustainable. And Minneapolis is still uncertain whether it, the team or the state will be able to somehow fill in the $55 million hole in its own plan. So while Minneapolis and Ramsey County continue to battle each other over the Vikings, they’ll also be battling the economics – and economic wisdom – of trying to afford to play home to the team.
Photo credit: Eric Miller / Reuters