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St. Paul Mayor Breaks Silence About New Stadium

Plans for a new stadium to house the Minnesota Vikings were announced in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. The total cost of the project will come to a shade over $1 billion dollars, $884 million of which would be for the stadium itself. The Vikings would be responsible for $407 million, leaving another $600 million in public financing. $300 million will be contributed by the state, and Ramsey County will raise $350 through an increase in sales tax revenues.

It was not until Thursday that St. Paul mayor, Chris Coleman, spoke about the complicated financing issues that would fund the stadium construction at the site of the former Twin City Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills. As mayor of the largest city in Ramsey County, Coleman thinks it’s ‘unfair’ for local, county residents to bear such a big burden financially.

“People in Virginia [Minnesota] watch the Vikings on TV. People in Mankato are eating buffalo wings and drinking beer on Sunday [and watching the games],” Coleman said, speaking to a reporter Thursday morning.

Coleman made it clear however that he wants to make this work before elaborating on why he’s still non-committal about the proposal and what alternatives he believes are worth considering.

“I start with the premise the Vikings are an important asset. We’ve got to find a way to keep them here.”

Coleman is obviously in a tough spot politically considering the economic climate. He’s skeptical that the revenues raised by levying an 0.5 percent sales tax increase will be as high as projected, and he’s interested in a provision that guarantees some of the residual revenues be distributed to other county investments such as libraries or parks.

Coleman went on to suggest what he believes might be a more equitable distribution of the state and county financial burden.

Instead, Coleman said the state should consider a statewide one-cent per bottle tax on beer and liquor as an alternative way to fund the stadium. In his rough estimate, the mayor added, that tax could finance $250 million in bonds. Two cents per bottle would finance $500 million, or nearly the entire state-county portion, he added.

So, be happy Vikings fans that the the nitty gritty is being ironed out. But also expect there to be plenty of heated discussions and negotiations still ahead as the Twin Cities figure out the particulars of how to finance a long-overdue new stadium to house the immensely popular NFL franchise.

For more on the stadium issue, head on over to Daily Norseman for more fan discussion and analysis of the complicated but exciting topic.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.