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Volume 24 No. 181


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).

More than a year after Amway Center opened and “complaints of poor reception started flooding in, mobile users are still reporting spotty service inside the 875,000-square-foot structure,” according to Walter Pacheco of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Carriers agree that reception “is a problem and are scrambling to improve it, especially in time for the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 26.” But they warn that Amway Center's “sheer size and high digital traffic will continue to create problems for mobile users trying to upload and download photos and videos from live events.” AT&T Area Network Manager Richard Bruno said, "We see just a tremendous use of data utilized in there, and it's a challenge to handle the demand of nearly 20,000 people during a sold-out event." Bruno said that AT&T near the end of '11 “connected to the antennas and added a fourth cell site -- the equivalent of a small cell tower -- inside the building to expand its coverage and capacity.” Sprint Nextel spokesperson Crystal Davis said that the company “might add a temporary mobile cell site outside the Amway Center to help improve coverage during the All-Star weekend.” Verizon Wireless Regional PR Manager Chuck Hamby said that the carrier “will finish testing its updated system before the NBA event.” In addition to boosting the capacity of nearby cell towers, Hamby said that there is “a ‘good chance’ the carrier will deploy a vehicle equipped with a cell site to the Amway Center as a backup” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/27).