Retractable roof no longer in Vikings' plans for new stadium

The Minnesota Vikings have dropped a retractable roof from their plans for a new stadium in an effort to reduce the project's price tag by about $30 million, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday.

"The plan has evolved," Lester Bagley, the team's vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said Tuesday evening.

The team remains in negotiations with state lawmakers, the governor's office and Ramsey County officials over how to pay for the approximately $1.06 billion complex in Arden Hills. The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome expires after this season, and supporters of a new stadium hope Gov. Mark Dayton will call a special legislative session to produce a financing plan.

Meanwhile, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf joined Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett at a rotary luncheon on Tuesday, where they fielded questions on the stadium. Bennett said the Vikings would lease the land and that all development funds would go to a state sports authority created under law. The current proposal is for the Vikings to contribute $407 million and the state to put in $300 million.

"It's money," said Bennett, referring to the additional $350 million from Ramsey County, which would be generated by a countywide 0.5 percent sales tax. "It's a lot of money. I don't want us to use the sales tax. Should it be spread on a broader basis? Yes, it should. Unfortunately, you're not given those options."

Dayton is against the idea of a statewide tax, saying he doesn't support any option that siphons money from the general fund.

Wilf, a real estate mogul who has built homes and businesses in most of the 50 states, didn't directly answer a question about who would control development rights in two areas north and south of the stadium. He said his primary focus was the stadium itself and that those sites would take five to 10 years to develop.

According to an agreement between the county and the team, Wilf would retain development rights to those parcels, totaling about 200 acres.

"He would own the 50 acres up on one end and 120 acres on the south end," Bennett said later.

The Ramsey County Charter Commission will meet Wednesday night to discuss a possible ballot question on the stadium, but Bennett said no tax increase could gain voter approval in this economic climate.

Dayton said that before he would call lawmakers into a special session to consider a stadium package, "we'd have to have a deal."

"Getting the Wilfs pinned down is proving challenging," he said. "They think in big terms, and sometimes it's hard to get the details."

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