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).
Rose Bowl and Pasadena officials said that the city “would conduct a new environmental report and analysis should it decide to pave the way for the Rose Bowl to temporarily host an NFL team.” Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck said that if city officials “proceed, they would conduct a new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) rather than a less extensive environmental review for council to consider increasing the number of large annual events at the stadium.” Beck said that the city would conduct the EIR “only if they have were confident that a team was available to relocate to Los Angeles, if there was a real revenue opportunity for both the stadium and the city and it was determined how the document would be paid for.” He added that a new EIR “would probably cost between $200,000 and $300,000” (PASADENASTARNEWS.com, 11/29).
MILLING ABOUT: In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec noted McDaniel College was the Ravens training camp home for the previous 15 summers, but the “seven-year contract between the two sides expired after the 2010 season, and due to the shortened training camp brought on by the extended NFL lockout this past summer, the Ravens opted to prepare for this season at the team's complex in Owings Mills.” The fact that an agreement “has yet to be reached has led to some outside speculation that the Ravens could choose to keep their training camp in Owings Mills, whether it's at their own complex or the new multi-million football facility built at nearby Stevenson University.” Stevenson Assistant VP/Public Relations John Buettner in an e-mail said the school "has not had any formal talks with the Ravens regarding hosting their training camps” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 11/27).
RENOVATION STATION: The Univ. of Florida announced that renovations to the west concourse of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium “began on Monday and will run through the beginning of the 2012 football season.” A UF release noted that the University Athletic Association “approved the changes to improve fan experience.” In Orlando, Rachel George noted the concourse “will be widened with the concession stands expanded and upgraded, bathrooms will be renovated and new first-aid stations will be added.” Graphics and signs “will also be updated” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/28).
EXPANSION PLANS: Disney yesterday announced plans to “expand the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.” Walt Disney World officials said that “additional playing fields are planned, as well as more lights, digital video boards and audio systems.” The expansion plans “involve adding 25 acres to the 270-acre complex,” and the project “should be completed by early 2012” (WESH.com, 11/29).