SBD/November 30, 2011/Facilities

Vikings Reluctantly Agree To Explore Stadium Site In Minneapolis

Questions about funding for new Vikings stadium remain unanswered
The Vikings “reluctantly agreed Tuesday to meet with Minneapolis officials to explore staying in the state's largest city but also worked to persuade a packed Senate hearing room that the team is ready to build a new stadium in Ramsey County,” according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The four-hour hearing at the State Capitol “left unanswered many of the stadium's most fundamental questions, including how to fund nearly $650 million in public costs for the project and whether the team even needs a new stadium or will lose money without one.” In one of the hearing's “pivotal moments,” state Sen. Julianne Ortman told Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley that “it would be ‘in your best interest’ to meet again with Minneapolis officials before partnering with Ramsey County and committing to a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills.” Bagley said the team would do so but added of Ramsey County, "We think it's important that we stick with the local partner that sticks with us." Minneapolis leaders “tried hard to inch back into the stadium discussion Tuesday but remained unwilling to choose among three proposed sites.” State Sen. Geoff Michel told Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak that “the city may have waited too long.” Michel: "There are some who would say that you're a little late to the dance here. What are you waiting for?" The Vikings at the hearing said that they “would increase their share of costs to $425 million, up from $407 million, but reiterated that the team would not sign a lease to play at the Metrodome beyond 2011 without a new stadium deal” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/30).

PUBLIC RELATIONS: In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes the hearings, with “another is scheduled for Dec. 6 -- are meant to gather public input to help finalize a stadium bill.” Lawmakers “could take action either in next year's session, which starts Jan. 24, or in a special session beforehand.” Along with officials from Minneapolis, Ramsey County, the Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, “20 members of the public testified.” There were “about six in favor of a Minneapolis stadium, four who wanted Arden Hills and two who spoke against Arden Hills.” Others “focused on financing, stadium features and procedural issues” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/30).
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