ECM Editorial Writer
A Minnesota Vikings football stadium in Arden Hills would be welcome news to the Northern metro area whose turn for a major development is overdue.
Throughout the development of the seven-county metropolitan area, the Northern suburbs of Ramsey, Anoka and Washington counties have been denied major facilities.
The Southern half of the area has gotten the development plums: airport and Mall of America in Bloomington and Canterbury Downs and Valleyfair in Scott County.
Years ago, metropolitan leaders turned back having a new airport in Ham Lake, preferring to expand it where it is in southern Hennepin County.
Sports stadiums and fields are all located in Minneapolis and St. Paul: Xcel Center for the National Hockey League in St. Paul, the Metrodome and Target field in Minneapolis and the TCF football stadium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
The National Sports Center in Blaine is the only major professional sports complex in the North suburban area.
A new stadium in Arden Hills would not only keep the Vikings playing in Minnesota, but it would attract new development and hotels and restaurants to the Northern Metro area. Viking fans traveling from all directions, particularly the Northern region would stop at service stations and restaurants.
Minneapolis leaders are doing all they can to persuade the Vikings to build the stadium on the Metrodome site. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak recently unveiled a last-minute plan to keep the Vikings playing at the Metrodome site.
That’s what happened when Anoka County had agreed to be the host taxing agent for a Vikings stadium in Blaine. Minneapolis leadership objected and the Anoka County plan was dropped.
Recently, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman showed his hand that would keep the Vikings at the Metrodome site and would move the Timberwolves basketball franchise from Target Arena to the Xcel Center. Coleman would finance this plan with a statewide tax on liquor.
Critics of the Arden Hills site say it’s too expensive, Ramsey County taxpayers shouldn’t have to come up with $300 million on a half-cent sales tax, and it belongs at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
One prime argument is the stadiums should be in Minneapolis and St. Paul to strengthen the core cities that are backbone of the Metro Area.
While that is a strong contention, those who favor a regional approach to economic development believe the stadium or comparable projects should be located on the best site. It can be argued that having the Minnesota Vikings playing in Arden Hills is better than losing them to some other state.
The Arden Hills site offers plenty of space for a stadium, practice fields and for bringing back the popular tailgate parties.
As for developing the region, Arden Hills, Ramsey and Anoka counties will profit from an up-graded highway system. Leaders in the North should battle to get this site approved. The Metro North Chamber and the Regional Visitors Bureau are backing the Arden Hills stadium plan.
A Vikings stadium in Arden Hills will keep the Vikings in Minnesota and offer development opportunities to the Northern tier of communities who have waited a long time.
Don Heinzman, former editor of the Star News in Elk River, is an editorial writer for ECM Publishers. His blog is posted on HometownSource.com.