Minneapolis Mayor Backs Metrodome As Preferred Site For New Vikings Stadium
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said yesterday that the city is "backing the Metrodome as its favored site for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and wants to use the nearby Minneapolis Armory to create an enhanced game-day experience for fans," according to Ragsdale & Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Rybak said that the "presence of one (and eventually two) light-rail lines at the Metrodome and its lower costs compared to Arden Hills make the current home of the Vikings the best place for a new stadium." He added that the Vikings' "desire for activities outside the stadium led Minneapolis to consider ways to use the privately owned armory as an 'event center field house, the centerpoint of a new game-day experience' for the team's fans." State Sen. Julie Rosen, the Senate's chief author on stadium legislation, said, "I think that's getting to be a very viable option." She noted that the Metrodome would "cost roughly $200 million less than the Vikings' preferred site in Ramsey County's Arden Hills." Senate Taxes Committee Chair Julianne Ortman asked Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale "why the stadium is an urgent matter." Mondale said, "If the Vikings continue to be at the lowest point of revenue and lose money or break even on their investment, as they are today ... then sooner or later they will leave." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that the team has "heard from two cities seeking an NFL team -- Los Angeles and another he would not identify" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/7).
PLAYING FAVORITES? In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes during a hearing at the state Capitol, Minneapolis leaders said that they "could contribute $300 million to a downtown stadium." But "not to be outdone, Ramsey County's mixture of targeted taxes could near $350 million." The plans are a "key step toward building a stadium for the NFL team that could cost $1 billion." Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett "didn't testify at the hearing but said in an interview that Minneapolis is getting so much time and extra chances that he is beginning to think the deck is stacked against the Arden Hills plan." Bennett: "Minneapolis went in with their dog-and-pony show, and everybody bent over backwards and told them how sweet they were." He added, "It was like watching an episode of 'we've already made up our minds and here's what's going to happen'" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/7). Also in St. Paul, Brian Murphy notes the Vikings and "their Metrodome landlord have scheduled a sitdown for the first week of January to resolve whether the team's lease expires Feb. 1, 2012." Mondale, who "contends last year's roof collapse triggers a clause that extends the lease another year, told a state Senate committee Tuesday that the issue should not 'get in the way of moving forward to getting a new stadium'" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/7).