Packers VP/Administration & General Counsel Jason Wied on Friday said that the team "hopes to begin construction on an expansion of the south end-zone area at historic Lambeau Field after next year's Super Bowl in February," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Wied said that consultants believe the Packers "can add as many as 7,500 seats in the south end-zone area, which was left open" when the team finished its $295M Lambeau Field makeover in '03. Current capacity at Lambeau is 73,128. Wied disclosed that the team "would finance the construction -- a cost estimate was not released -- on its own," and added that there "will be no public tax financing of the project." While the Packers "have not arrived at a financing plan, imposition of a user fee would seem likely because other season-seat holders paid the user fee during the last construction project." Walker noted a "stock sale, last held in 1997-'98, would be problematic because it would have to overcome regulatory hurdles as well as approval from NFL owners." Wied said that current season-ticket holders, "as well as those on the waiting list," received surveys last week "asking for input on the best seating configurations." The survey "includes various indoor and outdoor seating concepts that the team says 'would be unlike any other concepts currently being offered at other NFL facilities.'" Wied noted that "one idea being discussed internally is giving existing seat holders the option of moving to the new seating in the south end-zone area and giving incoming seat holders the opportunity to purchase seats in the current bowl" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/7). In Green Bay, Tony Walter noted the Packers also are "considering a new façade and entry gate on the south side of the stadium that would include elevators to all levels." New tickets that become available "will go to people on the team’s waiting list, except for standing-room-only tickets that will be sold game-by-game" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 5/8).
LET IT GROW? In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt wrote for the Packers, coming off a Super Bowl-winning season, "now's the time to strike if you're really going to add a lot more seats." The team looks "set up to be competitive for a relatively long time," and the "economy is getting better." Hunt added, "In the whole world, there's just one Lambeau Field. But how big is too big?" (JSONLINE.com, 5/7).
Minneapolis officials today will announce a proposal "to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings on the Metrodome site that calls for the city to pay roughly 25 percent of the cost," according to a source cited by Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The source said that the plan "would use sales taxes from the city's convention center for the project and also would provide money for renovation of Target Center." It also would "change the debt structure for Target Center." The source added that "no city property taxes would be used for the Vikings stadium." The plan "comes just days" after Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's chief stadium negotiator, said that the Vikings "were pursuing the stadium with the understanding the team would have to raise its contribution to roughly 40 percent of the cost." Kaszuba notes Minneapolis is "competing with Ramsey County, which wants to lure the Vikings to suburban Arden Hills" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/9).
GOING FOR THE END ZONE: In Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Brandt reported Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson and Mayor R.T. Rybak "met privately with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf on Friday," and Johnson said that the city "would likely release its proposal this week." In a "sign of how much the stadium landscape has changed, the city's last-minute maneuvering comes almost exactly a year after Minneapolis officials balked at using convention center taxes for a Vikings stadium." Much of the city's "urgency also comes from Thursday's announcement that Hennepin County, which helped finance Target Field in downtown Minneapolis, would not do likewise for the Vikings." At the same time, Ramsey County is "seen as further along and may announce its own plan that could include a countywide sales tax increase plan this week." Ramsey County officials also met with Wilf and a top NFL official Friday, and Mondale said the Vikings are "clearly very close to doing something with Ramsey" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/8). Also in Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Olson noted the Vikings' reported pledge to contribute around 40% of the stadium cost -- which the team "would not confirm or deny on Friday -- would push the team closer to what Dayton has insisted, and also what many legislators have said is necessary for the proposal to have any chance" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/7).
HEAD FOR THE HILLS? In St. Paul, Tom Powers wrote, "It's difficult to predict whether the Vikings will get a new facility any time soon. This is going to be a tough sell." But if they "do come to an agreement on one, it's difficult to imagine a better location" than the Arden Hills site. Powers: "My guess is that Vikings ownership already has decided on the Arden Hills site." Even though there will be "extra costs included in building roads, the Vikings should be able to recoup those." There is "plenty of room for tailgating in Arden Hills, and the team could play at the Dome while the new place is built." Powers added, "The way this dance ritual works is that the Vikings have to dangle the possibility of playing in Minneapolis one more time, just to make sure they wring every last drop out of the Arden Hills people" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/8). But in Minneapolis, Sid Hartman wrote he "can't get the least bit excited about the Arden Hills site," which "has so many infrastructure and soil problems that the cost will be prohibitive." Hartman: "Even though the Vikings owners won't divulge their favorite site, I am convinced that it is still the Metrodome. ... However, I am also convinced that if a stadium bill isn't passed this year, the Vikings stadium will become a reality in 2012" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/8).
Acquiring the Triple-A PCL Las Vegas 51s last week is the “first step” in Int'l Development Management President & CEO Chris Milam's “plan to build three state-of-the-art facilities" opposite the city's Mandalay Bay casino, according to Todd Dewey of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The proposed Las Vegas National Sports Center, a privately financed $1.95B project, would be located on a 63-acre parcel and house a “9,000-seat ballpark for the 51s,” a 17,500-seat arena "designed to house an NBA basketball team and a 36,000-seat stadium" for an MLS franchise. 51s Exec Dir Don Logan, who helped broker Milam's purchase of the team, said, "He wouldn't buy the team if he didn't think a stadium deal was going to happen." IDM spokesperson Lee Haney said that the company “plans to start construction on the project by the end of the year.” But Dewey notes IDM first must "finalize the purchase of the land.” Construction is “slated to start simultaneously on all three venues this year.” Haney said that the “arena is expected to be finished first, open for NBA action in the fall of 2013.” The soccer stadium and ballpark “will open, in that order, in 2014.” Haney said that IDM “likes its chances to lure an NBA franchise to Las Vegas.” The ballpark “could expand to 36,000 seats to accommodate” an MLB team, and the stadium “will allow for on-demand expansion to 50,000 seats for NCAA events and international soccer exhibitions, and could be further expanded to 72,000 seats for the NFL.” Subject to “final PCL approval, ownership of Las Vegas' 29-year-old Triple-A franchise is expected to be transferred to Milam by the end of July” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/7).