Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega are proposing a countywide 3 percent sales taxes on food and beverages to pay for a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. They say the tax will raise $24 million a year to finance $350 million of the $1.1 billion stadium.
“We continue to believe that the Vikings are a statewide asset and our preference is for a statewide funding solution for the people’s stadium,” Ortega and Bennett wrote in the letter. “However, because we believe in the viability of the Arden Hills site, we are willing to put forth funding alternatives beyond the earlier sales tax proposals that were removed from consideration by state officials earlier this year.”
Ramsey County was pushing for a half cent sales tax increase to pay for the stadium but Republicans in the Legislature insisted that voters approve the measure. Both Bennett and Ortega said there is precedent to allow local governments to increase food and beverage taxes without voter approval.
“As you know, various revenue sources have been authorized in previous legislation for numerous cities and counties in Minnesota. This includes authorizations for special local taxes on food and beverages, liquor, lodging, entertainment and admissions that do not have local referenda requirements by state statutes.”
Ramsey County and the Vikings are pushing to build the stadium in Arden Hills. They say it’s the best option to give fans a “game day experience.” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has been pushing for the new stadium to be built in Minneapolis. He suggested relying on an expansion of gambling and sales tax money collected for the city’s convention center.
Gov. Dayton has said he doesn’t have a preferred site location but would like to see the Legislature address the issue this session.
Here’s the letter from Bennett and Ortega: