SBD/January 27, 2012/Facilities

NFL Unhappy With Plan For Vikings To Play Three Seasons At TCF Bank Stadium

Wilf has said making stadium NFL compliant would cost Vikings additional $30M
The NFL is "annoyed with the idea" of the Vikings playing up to three seasons at TCF Bank Stadium while a new venue is built on the Metrodome site, according to Brian Murphy of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The NFL "would have to sign off on this concept before the Vikings play a single down" at the Univ. of Minnesota stadium. A source said, "I can tell you there won't be a lot of happy campers among the membership (owners)." Murphy notes the experiment "worked for one game" in December '10, when the Vikings "excavated TCF Bank Stadium from the snowstorm that collapsed the Metrodome roof to host" the Bears. But "one novelty act does not compare to two or three years of operating losses for the team." It is a "tall order to make a smaller college facility conducive to fans used to certain privileges -- such as premium seating, parking and booze -- or NFL owners accustomed to cost certainty." As recently as '02, the Bears "had to migrate south" to the Univ. of Illinois while Soldier Field underwent a makeover. But that was "just one season." No NFL team has "ever played three seasons at an alternative venue since the Super Bowl era began" in '66. TCF Bank Stadium seats about 51,000, and has an "additional 3,000 designated standing-room spots in the plaza behind the west end zone." The Metrodome, meanwhile, "holds slightly more than 63,000." Vikings President Mark Wilf has said that the team would "lose $37 million playing at TCF Bank Stadium for three seasons and would have to spend an additional $30 million to make it NFL compliant" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/27).

SETBACK IN MAYOR'S PLAN: In Minneapolis, Eric Roper notes city council insistence that public funding for a new Vikings stadium must go before Minneapolis voters "put the brakes on Mayor R.T. Rybak's plan for the Metrodome site Thursday." Also Thursday, House Government Operations and Elections Committee Chair Joyce Peppin, whose committee would likely be the first to handle the Vikings stadium plan, said that she would "oppose any attempt to waive a referendum requirement." Peppin: "I'd like to see a referendum if it involves taxpayer money, which it undoubtedly will." The majority council opposition is a "major blow to the mayor's plan, though he maintains he can muster the seven votes to pass it." Rybak said, "It's not going to be a slam dunk here or at the Capitol or anywhere else, but we can see a way to get there" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/27).
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