Vikings: Anoka Partnership Still Alive

The Vikings say they are still committed to partnering with Anoka County, as legislation suggests, when they bring their new plan for a stadium complex before the 2007 state legislature. Terms of the deal may change, but the partnership between the two is still in place.

"The Vikings remain committed to developing a workable stadium solution with
Anoka County, according to team owner Zygi Wilf."

That was the lead sentence in a press release earlier this week, released jointly by the Minnesota Vikings and Anoka County.

The release came after Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs, was quoted in a local newspaper saying that the Wilfs like to have backup plans and might consider other options besides the Anoka County stadium partnership plan presented to the state legislature this spring. The Minnesota Twins received approval for public financing of a baseball stadium in Minneapolis through the use of a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County, and Gophers received financing for a new on-campus football stadium.

The Vikings' proposal with Anoka County, however, was the one of the three stadium bills that didn't receive approval. Some believe that Gov. Tim Pawlenty's worries about the Twins moving or contracting pushed the Vikings to the bottom of the list of three entities asking for stadium assistance. Others believe that Anoka County's 0.75 percent sales tax was too steep for politicians to approve without a referendum.

But Wilf reiterated the Vikings' commitment to Anoka County in a statement.

"There is no plan for a new stadium other than in Anoka County," said Wilf. "No other options are currently under consideration."

The 2006 state legislature did pass language directing Anoka County and the Vikings to come back with a proposal in 2007.

"Anoka County and the Minnesota Vikings shall negotiate an agreement for the development and financing of a stadium that meets the programmatic requirements of the National Football League, and that has a retractable roof, to be located in the city of Blaine. A report on the agreement must be presented to the legislature by January 15, 2007," the legislation reads.

"We remain committed to work with the Vikings to see if we can present the legislature with a viable proposal in 2007," said Anoka County Board Chair Margaret Langfeld.

Anoka County and the Vikings have been working together on a stadium plan for the Vikings since December 2002, and the Vikings have been seeking public financing for a stadium since the 1990s.

"As community assets used for more than just sports, stadiums are typically publicly owned buildings funded with both private and public investment," the release stated. "Anoka County is attempting to meet community interests in working with the State and the Vikings on a financing plan."

According to figures from a study by the McComb Group earlier this month, the total investment for the 2006 plan called for $1.533 billion, with the stadium taking $675,000 of that with an additional $858,000 in private investment from Wilf and others. The project on the 740-acre development was expected to generate 4,313 construction jobs during the building of the complex and 6,916 jobs within the development thereafter, generating annual sales taxes of $33 million and property taxes of $15.8 million after completion.

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