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Minn. DOT says stadium road upgrades to cost $131M

The signs of the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant are still up at the gate leading to the site of a proposed Vikings NFL football stadium on May 10 in Arden Hills, Minn., where Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf announced a deal with Ramsey County to collaborate on a $1.1 billion retractable-roof football stadium on the site. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

St. Paul, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Department of Transportation estimates it will cost $131 million to repair roads near the proposed Vikings stadium site in Arden Hills.

That’s $44 million less than the agency initially estimated. But it still would make up almost half of the $300 million that Gov. Mark Dayton and key legislators insist is the cap on the state’s contribution to stadium construction costs. The Vikings and Ramsey County officials want state lawmakers to authorize a $1.1 billion stadium at the suburban site, and help with money for the project.

“We agreed that $300 million is the state share and it’s going to be limited to that,” Dayton said last week. “We’re going to make that once again clear to the Vikings.”

Construction of the $1.1 billion, 65,000-seat NFL stadium at a former Army ammunition site in Arden Hills would be paid in part with a half-cent county sales tax increase. St. Paul is Ramsey County’s largest city; Arden Hills is about 10 miles northeast of St. Paul.

The deal struck last week between the Vikings and Ramsey County leaders split costs for the $1.1 billion, retractable-roof stadium between the team $407 million; the county at $350 million; and the state at $300 million ó plus the cost of transportation improvements.

Disagreement over the cost of the transportation improvements has slowed the stadium bill’s progress at the Capitol. But the stadium push still faces obstacles as GOP legislative leaders insist it won’t get resolved until after they agree on a state budget with Dayton.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has said he was not yet willing to support a new Minnesota Vikings stadium north of his city in Ramsey County, questioning whether his constituents will benefit in equal measure to the increased taxes they’ll pay.

“Whether it’s got a great direct benefit to the city of St. Paul is one of the things I’m going to be asking,” Coleman said. “Quite frankly, a huge chunk of that half-cent sales tax would be generated in the city of St. Paul.”

Coleman said he would withhold judgment until he saw an upcoming state analysis of whether that tax increase would raise enough to support the county share; and how much of the tax collections come from within the city.

He suggested he might propose funneling a portion of the tax money directly to the city, perhaps to help keep parks and libraries open amid likely state budget cuts.

Coleman said he considered the Vikings an important state asset, and didn’t rule out supporting the Ramsey County deal.

A cheaper option for taxpayers exists in a stadium offer floated by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to put a new stadium at the current site of the Vikings’ home at the Metrodome. The Minneapolis option would have the Vikings pay a larger share, but team officials since have made clear the Vikings’ energy is directed toward the Ramsey County option.

Despite the team’s stated preference, Rybak said that Minneapolis had no plans to sweeten its offer or launch a bidding war.

“Not another nickel,” Rybak said. “We put out a very good offer. If the Vikings choose the Ramsey County offer and that works, they should go with that solution.”

More on the Vikings stadium plans

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