On Tuesday, Ramsey County and Vikings officials, drunk on champagne from a bottle that had not yet been uncorked, celebrated the news of the deal to build a new NFL stadium in Arden Hills.
The hangover has begun.
On Thursday, St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman said that it would be unfair for Ramsey County (in which St. Paul is located) to bear a local burden for hosting the stadium, given that citizens throughout Minnesota watch and enjoy the Vikings. Also on Thursday, it became clear that folks in Minneapolis aren’t ready to wave the same white flag the Vikings could have used the last time the Packers came to town.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Senator Julie Rosen said the team asked her whether the project could obtain tentative approval from the Minnesota Legislature without details like, say, a location. Previously, it appeared that the Vikings needed a specific local partner in order to push the bill through the Legislature. That dynamic likely contributed to the selection of Arden Hills.
But with Minneapolis still holding out hope and with Coleman cool to the proposal, the Vikings seem to at least be interested in possibly resorting to the prior plan to get approval from the state before nailing down a specific location.
And it appears that the state-level politicians are pushing for Minneapolis, given the state’s claims that at least $175 million would be needed to improve roads at the Ramsey County site. Vikings exec Lester Bagley said the contention, echoed by Governor Mark Dayton, “doesn’t pass the smell test,” which probably isn’t the best way to keep Dayton in the pro-stadium camp.
“Twenty thousand cars added to the road system on Sunday [for a game] costs $175 million? It’s easy to kill stuff, particularly on stadiums, [but] I’m not casting aspersions,” Bagley said.
Still, he’s not casting confetti, either, even though Tuesday’s press conference seemed to presume that the stadium would indeed be built in Arden Hills. The situation is far more complex than that, and only 10 days remain before the last legislative session before the expiration of the team’s lease at the Metrodome ends.