Ramsey County commissioners appeared confident that their deal, announced Tuesday afternoon, was quite a coup for the site of a former munitions plant in Arden Hills. The county had snatched the headlines from Minneapolis' Monday efforts to proclaim a new stadium plan, and it appeared Ramsey County had the lead. From the Vikings' perspective, it did. But politicians controlling the stadium movements – those that have been involved for nearly a decade and those that came into office in recent months – uttered Lee Corso's favorite phrase: "Not so fast, my friends."
Suddenly the most supportive governor the Vikings have had since before the Red McCombs days wasn't so supportive. Gov. Mark Dayton has been a proponent of getting a "people's stadium" done since taking office about the time that Leslie Frazier took over the head-coaching role for the Vikings on a permanent basis. Now, however, Dayton has serious reservations about the Vikings-Ramsey County partnership as the legislative session enters its final full week.
Eight legislative days left. No budget bill. No Vikings stadium consensus. No wonder politicians are ranked with the media and lawyers among some of the least respected jobs in society.
While Dayton told the Star Tribune that the state's $300 million contribution is "absolutely the limit," the Ramsey County deal calls for about another $75-200 million (depending on which figures you believe) for roadwork in the area. County commissioners have contended for months that the road work would need to be done no matter if a stadium sits in Arden Hills or not, but there is no clear-cut way to fund those roads (federal money has been mentioned in the past).
Another concern emanating from Dayton is that the Vikings would have too much control of the stadium in the Ramsey County deal. While a stadium commission would be formed, it likely wouldn't be the current cast from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, so it should come as no surprise that representatives like Ted Mondale, who was appointed by Dayton in January to lead the MSFC, are concerned over the potential loss of their jobs in a few years if the new stadium is built in Ramsey County and the Metrodome lay inoperable because of a lack of Vikings rent money and no replacement stadium on that site.
So what's the solution? If something is going to get done without a special session, it looks like a plan is going to have to pop quickly for the infrastructure issues surrounding the Arden Hills site. Back in Minneapolis, things appear to be a hurried mess.
Mayor R.T. Rybak's plan didn't involve much agreement from the Vikings for several reasons.
But the real mess in Minneapolis appears to be from within. By many accounts, Rybak is pushing for the Metrodome site while other downtown leaders prefer a more thorough look into the possibilities by Target Field and Target Center in the area known as the Farmer's Market.
What should have happened months (if not years) ago is a cooperative effort to investigate the Farmer's Market plan. It may have avoided all the last-minute acrimony.
But that's not how the city, county and state officials have worked, at least when it comes to dealing with the stadium situation. They have delayed for years and now look desperate to save some Minneapolis face by poking holes in the Ramsey County effort (and there may be legitimate reasons to examine those holes).
A more prepared, cooperative, comprehensive plan for and by Minneapolis may have worked. But, right now there is no such comprehensive effort, leaving the Vikings in political limbo once again, behind the eight-ball with eight legislative days to go.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.