SBD/January 13, 2011/Facilities

Vikings Willing To Pay Third Of Cost For New Roofless Stadium

Vikings' lease to play home games at Metrodome expires after the '11 NFL season

While Minnesota state lawmakers "appear likely to insist that a roof be part of any public deal for a new Vikings stadium, the team is sticking with its offer to pay about a third of the bill -- minus whatever a roof would cost," according to Condon & Campbell of the AP. Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley yesterday said that the team "would prefer an outdoor stadium, but understood that might not win legislative approval when lawmakers in February take up the team's request for a stadium funded in part by taxpayers." Bagley: "A roof does not provide any benefit to the Vikings. It also costs a couple hundred million dollars more in capital costs, in addition to the operating costs that are much higher for a covered facility." But Minnesota state Sen. Julie Rosen, likely lead sponsor of the stadium bill, said that "most lawmakers want a facility like the Metrodome that can host not just NFL football but also dozens of high school and college tournaments and other public events." Rosen: "If you're going to put this much capital, this much sweat and tears into it, you're going to need a 365-day facility like the Metrodome." Both Rosen and Bagley indicated that the "funding proposal would in some ways mimic a previous plan to in part tap stadium users directly through taxes on football jerseys and similar items." Bagley would not address "what would happen if the Legislature failed to act on the Vikings' request this year" (AP, 1/12).

YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS? The Vikings are "one of a handful of teams around the league with unsettled stadium situations," but AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke said that "his conversations with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf have not focused on selling or moving the team." Leiweke, whose company is leading the charge to build an NFL-ready stadium in L.A., said yesterday, "Zygi made it real clear he'd like to solve his problems there and get a stadium built. We do business there, and we're going to be very careful not to do anything to harm the process. So from a personal standpoint, I hope they figure it out." Leiweke yesterday also reiterated that he is "confident AEG's plan can come to fruition." He said, "We wouldn't be sitting here talking about a billion-dollar project if we didn't think the NFL worked in L.A." (AP, 1/12). The HUFFINGTON POST's Joel Epstein wrote if a "pro football stadium must be built in LA, then it should be built" at L.A. Live., just as AEG has proposed. Public transportation, including the Metro Blue Line and a "soon-to-open Expo Line," will "bring people there." By comparison, "how is anyone supposed to take transit to a stadium" in nearby City of Industry, where Majestic Realty wants to build an NFL facility. A new Event Center in downtown, along with Staples Center, L.A. Live, "new condos and restaurants in South Park and the new Broad Museum, will make downtown more happening" (HUFFINGTONPOST.com, 1/12).

WILL AEG'S PLAN COME TO FRUITION? During an SBJ/SBD roundtable discussion in December titled, "Blueprint for the Future," several facility experts discussed AEG's stadium plan. HNTB VP Joe Diesko said, "It really depends on traffic. They gotta figure out how to get people in and out of there." Rossetti President Matt Rossetti: "I think they are already used to it now. Staples Center has created an epicenter. L.A. had no depth to it and now it’s there." Populous Senior Principal Earl Santee said, "It’s Southern California, they live and die by the car. It’s not like the East Coast. Mass transit is not that crucial, even though it’s there." Diesko added, "It’s all about time, it’s not really about how far everything is. ... And it will take a lot less time for the big-money people to go to a game in downtown L.A. than it would be in City of Industry" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/10 issue).

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