Shakopee enters Vikings stadium competition

4:30 AM, Jan 12, 2012   |    comments
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Shakopee proposed stadium site

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke walked into Governor Mark Dayton's office Wednesday and delivered his city's pitch for a Vikings stadium.

He said the southwest metro community, which is already home to Valley Fair and Canterbury Park, is well situated to handle the influx of Vikings fans on game days.

"This is definitely not pie in the sky," said Tabke, who was sworn in as mayor only eight days earlier.

"This is a really good option for the Vikings and for Minnesota, and it solves a lot of problems that currently exist with all of the other stadium locations."

The mayor's announcement came on the eve of the Thursday deadline Governor Dayton set for final stadium proposals from Ramsey County and the City of Minneapolis, which had been the only players in the latest round of stadium maneuvers.

And, while it would seem Shakopee has taken the field long after the two minute warning, Tabke said the stadium bill has yet to take shape at the Capitol where lawmakers will convene January 24.

"We're coming in late to the game but there are new facets, new issues that are coming up with every new stadium site every day," Tabke remarked. "It seems every hour there's a new person saying why this will or won't work in each of the other places."

Tabke said he was first approached by veteran land developer Richard Anderson about the site, between US Highways 101 and 169 east of the amusement park.  The land formerly served as the main campus for ADC Telecommunications, which left a sprawling production facility there.

The Shakopee plan relies on an influx of gambling revenue that would be generated by a proposed Racino at Canterbury Park. According to Cory Merrifield, the founder of SaveTheVikes.org, the Racino would pay $45 million up front, followed by annual payments of $29 million for 29 years or until the stadium bonds are repaid.

The Vikings and the NFL, according to Merrifield, would be asked to pay $400 million.  Football fans would also be tapped to the tune of $16 million per year for the life of the stadium loan.

That would come from a variety of sources, including a ticket surcharge, proceeds from special lottery scratch-off games, and fees from the sales of personalized license plates.  Merrifield also said the fans, as an entity, would get a share of naming rights revenue which would go toward the $16 total.

"If you use the stadium with this finance plan you pay for it," the Vikings booster said. "If you don't, you won't."

Rep. Mike Beard of Shakopee was one of five lawmakers who joined Merrifield and Mayor Tabke to explain the plan to members of the Capitol press corps.  He said he's confident the legislature will end years of stadium debate and pass a bill before the session ends in May.

"We would like the stadium issue to be resolved, reminding you that it is indeed Minnesota's stadium, not the Vikings's stadium," Rep. Beard told reporters. "Minnesota works and plays in that stadium."

The Vikings are still committed to their own plan at the former site of the Twin Cities Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills. 

The team's partner in the proposed sports complex, Ramsey County, has struggled to find a local funding source that can gain the approval of Republican legislative leaders.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak put three downtown sites on the table, including the current site of the Metrodome and two tracts of land near Target Field and Target Center known commonly as the Farmers Market site and the Linden Avenue site.

Rybak and City Council President Barb Johnson both prefer the Dome site because all of the land is publicly owned, and it would cheaper in theory to redevelop than the two sites on the western edge of downtown.

Some Minneapolis business leaders are urging the city's leaders to rethink that, because of the critical mass of hotels, restaurants and other entertainment venues near the western site.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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