Ramsey County is for real
The headlines this past week have been filled with chatter about the Vikings and Ramsey County exploring the possibility of building a new stadium in Arden Hills, at the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP).
As we mentioned early in the week, the Ramsey County Commissioners wasted no time in approving resolution P12 to declare the Board’s interest in pursuing the potential acquisition and remediation of the former TCAAP site. The Board also stated that they “will work cooperatively with the Minnesota Vikings, the City of Arden Hills, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature in an effort to reach a successful resolution for a stadium project at the TCAAP site.”
In plain terms, what this means is that Ramsey County can now do the appropriate analysis to determine if building a new stadium in Arden Hills is logistically and financially feasible.
The Vikings on Arden Hills
Lester Bagley, the Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs, released this video statement about the positive aspects of the Arden Hills site on Vikings.com last week.
Some of the key benefits of the Arden Hills site that Bagley touches on are:
- A centralized tailgating location for 25,000 vehicles, which the Metrodome is sorely lacking.
- Close access to major freeways (35W and 694).
- A team of environmentalists, traffic analysts and site surveyors have been contracted by the Vikings to work with MNDOT and Ramsey County to produce data needed to develop a stadium plan.
Bagley ends the video asking for fan support and involvement. “We are trying to solve this issue for the long term future of the franchise, so fans have a great experience on game day,” Bagley says. He states that fans can visit Vikings.com, MinnesotaMomuntum.com and SaveTheVikes.org for more information on how to support and get involved in this process.
The Current Financial Situation
The looming issue in the new stadium debate is financing. Additional costs incurred by building in Arden Hills vary, but will early projections indicate final cost will land somewhere between $1 Billion to $1.2 Billion. Infrastructure, public transportation and accommodations in the area need to be included in cost estimates. It’s no secret that SaveTheVikes.org is in support of user-based fees, coupled with Racino dollars which could help put this over the top with the local partnerships.
Recently on Scout.com, Lester Bagley addressed the issue of the G3 fund, which was designed to help team owners with stadium construction costs. Unfortunately, that fund has been exhausted, and has been effectively eliminated by the NFL. In the article, Bagley discusses the possibility of the NFL returning to the practice of contributing funds to new stadium projects after a resolution is reached for the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Bagley says that teams in smaller markets often struggle with stadium projects, as they are very expensive.
“This G3 financing, or whatever the evolution of the program will be, is important. It helps teams finance with private contributions. It’s part of the private contribution, so it’s important for us to get that. The Wilf’s have been talking with other owners and the commissioner, and as this thing has come into focus – the league has to approve any financing deal to build a stadium. Our request when we are close to a deal is to also get some league financial support.” -Lester Bagley [Courtesy of Scout.com]
The Vikings are in dire need of the G3 financial help. Out of the 32 teams in the league, the Vikings are ranked 30th in profitability. Currently, the team receives financial subsidies from the top two-thirds of NFL teams. Without the subsidies from the most profitable teams in the leagues, the Vikings would no longer be able to operate. Sid Hartman breaks down the Vikings’ ticket sales revenue over the last few years in his recent Star Tribune column.
When Favre was on fire and the Vikings hosted the Cowboys in Minneapolis for the 2009 divisional playoffs, ticket sales for the season brought in $57.5 million. As we all know, the 2010 season was far less successful – in terms of wins for the team, and ticket sales. The Vikings only managed to bring in $41.4 million in ticket sales in 2010, which is a devastating 28% decline in revenue from the previous year. You can’t however put all that on team performance. The Vikings had 2 games moved due to the collapsed Metrodome roof. The first one against the NY Giants moved to Detroit and the “Snow Bowl” against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium. All of which, reduced ticket sales and added overhead.
With the team and the State in difficult financial situations, the Vikings have sought out a local partner to help bear the costs. Ramsey County lobbyists and Commissioner Jan Parker have quickly stepped up to assist. Ramsey County officials have already approached State Lawmakers about the potential of a half-cent, countywide sales tax to contribute to stadium construction costs according to the Star Tribune. Ramsey County officials say that no formal proposal is being discussed at this point.
For years now the Vikings have been asked by the State of Minnesota to find a local partner, and when Ramsey County approached the Vikings about doing just that, they were all ears. This is no Blaine, folks.
We will keep you updated as discussions between the Vikings and Ramsey County continue to develop about a stadium in Arden Hills. We suggest that fans get involved by emailing your Legislators to tell them what you think. As always you can use our handy tool to help you find your 2011 legislators and email them directly.