City Hall update // City Council dissects Vikings stadium deal with vote looming

Minneapolis City Council opponents of a Vikings stadium plan say they have little hope that their colleagues won’t approve the deal, but that didn’t stop them from giving the proposal a thorough look in city meetings in late May. 

City Council Member Betsy Hodges (Ward 13) brought the bill into her Ways and Means/Budget Committee on May 21 to dig into the financial details of the deal, but did so knowing that a majority of the 13-member City Council would approve the deal on May 25. 

“We are going to disagree on Friday morning, but chances are good on Monday morning we’re going to wake up and have to build a new stadium in the city of Minneapolis,” Hodges said of the vote scheduled for May 25, which happened after this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press.

The city’s chief financial officer, Kevin Carpenter, gave the committee four pages of financial information, including a spreadsheet that projected sales tax revenue for the next 33 years. It showed how that money would be spent on the Vikings stadium, Target Center and the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

Between 2013 and 2046, the city would spend just short of $2.7 billion to build a new Vikings stadium, to renovate and pay off the Target Center and to maintain, operate, market and pay off the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

Of that $2.7 billion number, $678 million will go toward a Vikings stadium, $480 million will go toward the Target Center, and $1.53 billion will go toward the Convention Center. 

Most of the money for those public facilities would come from a half-cent citywide sales tax as well as liquor, lodging and restaurant taxes downtown. 

The city will be able to charge sales tax on Vikings tickets in the new stadium, which Carpenter said would bring in $1.5 million to $2 million to the city’s general fund. The Metrodome was exempt from city ticket taxes. 

Carpenter and Chuck Lutz, the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development deputy director, took a grilling from some council members, including Gary Schiff, who has taken on the role of most vocal stadium opponent. 

Schiff raised concerns about how much funding will be available for the Minneapolis Convention Center with resources going to the Vikings stadium. He also said the city should have secured assurances of surrounding development near the stadium site. 

“It would be such a shame to have the legacy of this bill be stripping of your ability to have competitive capital dollars [for the Convention Center] and see them going to a new building,” Schiff said. 

Mayor R.T. Rybak said the financing plan leaves $60 to $70 million for a Target Center renovation, which was most recently estimated to cost $135 million. Rybak said he will be negotiating on that renovation with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and the building’s manager, AEG.

Council President tables her resolution aimed 

at OccupyMN campers on Peavey Plaza

OccupyMN protesters will be able to continue camping out on Peavey Plaza downtown after Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson tabled her resolution that would have kept the protesters off the public space overnight. 

Johnson on May 16 said the campout was a “diminishing problem.” 

“It seems to me at this point we are dealing with a relatively diminishing problem, and I remain extremely concerned, however, about the use of police resources when I represent a community that is challenged with public safety issues,” said Johnson, who represents North Minneapolis. “I just think we’re, you know, spending a lot of time babysitting a lot of people,”

Her move to postpone came two weeks after the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee held a public hearing in which Sam Grabarski president of the Downtown Council, John Griffith, vice president of Target Corp. and Sarah Harris of the Downtown Improvement District all asked the committee to pass Johnson’s resolution. 

Reach Nick Halter at [email protected]