- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ST. PAUL, MINN. (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings appeared ready Tuesday to abandon their longtime home in downtown Minneapolis by backing a proposed new stadium site in a suburb about 10 miles away.

Team owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf were scheduled to hold a news conference with several Ramsey County commissioners pushing the former Army ammunition plant site in suburban Arden Hills. The Vikings website referred to the pending announcement as the “new stadium proposal in Arden Hills.”

The announcement comes just a day after Minneapolis officials pitched a plan to keep the team downtown, where the Metrodome is located. It also came just hours after Gov. Mark Dayton said fixing up roads near the Arden Hills site would likely cost at least $175 million and up to $240 million if it includes restaurants, hotels and other amenities.

Still, Dayton said he could support either site as long as the state share doesn’t exceed $300 million _ about a third of the estimated cost of building a new $900 million stadium. Ramsey County officials have suggested a half-cent county sales tax increase to pay the local share.

Under a bill pending at the Legislature, the state share of $300 million would be raised by a 10 percent state sales tax on sports memorabilia, a sales tax on luxury seats at the new stadium and on digital video recorders, and proceeds from stadium naming rights and a football-themed state lottery game.

The Vikings would pay the remainder of construction costs. Team officials did not return calls Tuesday in advance of the afternoon announcement, but Ramsey County commissioners Rafael Ortega and Tony Bennett have said negotiations appeared close to finished.

Ortega said the transportation costs released by Dayton were not the final hangup. “When we come out with our proposal, you’ll see how we deal with those costs,” he said.

Vikings officials were cool Monday to the Minneapolis proposal, saying the proposed team share of $400 million was too high for that site.

The Vikings have been seeking a replacement for the Metrodome for about a decade, saying the venue is no longer sufficiently profitable. While team officials once expressed a preference for staying at the Metrodome site, recent weeks have seen a growing emphasis on the Ramsey County proposal, which would offer the possibility of a much larger stadium and entertainment complex.

Dayton said he believed the whole deal could come together in the less than two weeks left in the legislative session.

“I think it’s very possible and very doable,” Dayton said. “It’s also possible that it won’t.”



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