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Minneapolis to unveil proposals for Vikings stadium

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, with City Council President Barbara Johnson, tells reporters Monday that Minneapolis would be a better site for a Vikings football stadium than the Arden Hills location team officials want. Pioneer Photo/Don Davis

ST. PAUL -- Minneapolis is trying to wiggle back into the stadium debate.

After meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday, the mayor and the City Council president of Minnesota's largest city said they are prepared to deliver their own Vikings football stadium plans to Gov Mark Dayton this week. Mayor R.T. Rybak said any Minneapolis plan would be less expensive than the Vikings' preferred proposal, to build a $1.1 billion stadium in northern Ramsey County's Arden Hills.

The Vikings, who reject any stadium other than in Arden Hills, have played in downtown Minneapolis' Metrodome for three decades, but say they will not play there after their lease expires Feb. 1 unless there is an agreement to build a new stadium.

Rybak said Minneapolis is looking at three sites, and prefers renovating the Metrodome, which has a new roof after the old one collapsed in a December 2010 snowstorm.

The mayor and City Council President Barbara Johnson said downtown Minneapolis can better handle a stadium than other potential sites.

"We know how to do these things," Johnson said, referring to professional baseball and basketball teams and the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Rybak promised to give Dayton plans for three downtown stadium locations, the Metrodome site in east downtown and two in the west.

After sitting out much of the stadium debate while the Vikings look at Arden Hills, Rybak said that things are changing: "We will be moving more aggressively."

Rybak said that the three proposals he will present Dayton put the football stadium downtown and also would fund an upgrade to the Timberwolves' home in Target Center.

Minneapolis officials could accept a sales tax increase to provide local funding, Rybak said. Johnson added that there are enough votes on the council to approve a downtown casino to help with financing a stadium.

Last week, Dayton said he would accept stadium suggestions this week and release his stadium-construction plan on Nov. 7. Today, he said he would continue to take stadium ideas next week, apparently right up until he releases his proposal.

Dayton said he remains neutral on a stadium site. He said he was not sure if his Nov. 7 plan will be site-specific.

The governor also said that any of four major legislative leaders could veto a special legislative session he plans to call for Nov. 21.

As his self-imposed Nov. 7 deadline for producing a stadium plan draws near, Dayton said that Republican legislative leaders are too busy to meet with him until Friday.

Dayton clarified his requirements about calling a special session, saying he would need agreement from all four caucus leaders that a session would be only about a stadium.

A week ago, he said he would call a session to begin Nov. 21, and wrap up three days later, which is Thanksgiving eve.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.