SBD/January 18, 2011/Facilities

Vikings Pushing For Minn. Legislature To Consider New Stadium

New Vikings stadium to replace Metrodome could be on legislative agenda this year
The Vikings "aren't content to just move to the back of the line this year, waiting for the Legislature to finish other, more pressing business -- like the budget -- before discussing" a new stadium, according to John Vomhof Jr. of the MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL BUSINESS JOURNAL. Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley: "The budget is going to be an all-session, all-consuming donnybrook. If we wait till that's done, then we're going to be down to the final weeks of the session like we were last year. We can work on both issues simultaneously. Perhaps you don't vote on a stadium proposal until the budget is done, but to say you can't talk about it doesn't make sense." Vomhof writes early signs "have been encouraging," as Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders "have indicated the issue will be on their agenda this year." Dayton "has said he supports getting a deal done, as long as the public benefits outweigh the public costs." Bagley: "This is the first time in at least 12 years that we've had a governor who supports a stadium, so we're optimistic that we can move the issue forward this year. It's time to resolve this issue." Vomhof notes it is "up to the Vikings to present a stadium plan that includes a specific site and funding model for the Legislature to consider," and Bagley said that this is "something the team plans to do within 30 to 45 days of the start of the session." Minnesota Business Partnership Exec Dir Charlie Weaver said of a stadium, "It's not the top priority, but it's important for Minnesota to retain the Vikings. It's a quality-of-life issue" (MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/14 issue). Minnesota state Rep. Greg Davids, the new Chair of the House Taxes Committee, said that he "opposes using state tax money to build a new" Vikings stadium. Davids said that "residents of his southeastern Minnesota district would not benefit from having a new stadium in the Twin Cities, so he won't ask them to pay for it." Davids added that it is "possible some money for a new stadium could be raised by a ticket tax or some other kind of user fee" (AP, 1/17).

ENCOURAGING MESSAGE: A Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE editorial states Dayton "sent an encouraging message with last week's appointment of Ted Mondale" as Chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. Mondale, "seasoned as a policymaker, politician, executive and entrepreneur," is "exactly the sort of pick a governor would make if he's serious about keeping the Vikings in Minnesota on the best possible public terms." It is too soon to "offer a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on a 2011 stadium plan," but Dayton and Mondale "both conveyed a useful message last week." Mondale said, "If it's doable, this is the year we do it." The editorial: "We hope the Legislature pays heed" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/18).

ROLLING ON: In St. Paul, Elizabeth Mohr reports Metrodome officials Friday announced that Rollerdome and indoor running events are "back on track" at the stadium, even though the roof "has yet to be fixed and events involving the field are still called off." MSFC Exec Dir Bill Lester said that on-field events "will have to wait for further testing and analysis of roof panels." MSFC spokesperson Darin Broton said that "part of the ongoing analysis includes the field's turf, replaced last year" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/16).
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