The Big Story Blog

A final path to a new Vikings stadium?

Posted at 8:53 AM on January 12, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Sport

(Vikings at the farmer's market?)

"The proposal for a new, multi-purpose stadium is dead and the reason is that taxpayers are unwilling to sign a blank check. We're interested in having the Vikings stay. But the question is: What is the price?"

Who said it: Amy Koch? Tim Pawlenty? John Marty? Mark Dayton? No. The words came from St. Paul Sen. John Chenoweth - nearly 40 years ago -- as lawmakers and Vikings team owners wrangled over building what would become the Metrodome.

Read through the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission history of the Metrodome and it's stunning how the current rhetoric over a new stadium matches up almost exactly with the same battles in the 1970s, including the dire predictions of Gov. Wendell Anderson in 1975 that the Vikings (and Minnesota Twins) would leave without passage of stadium legislation to replace Metropolitan Stadium.

Here we are again. Today is Dayton's deadline for stadium plans. The Vikings Metrodome lease has expired. The vexing issue: How to pay for the public portion of a new stadium.

Despite more than a decade of starts and stops, there's reason to believe that this is the beginning of the end in the stadium funding wars.

There's support for a stadium and support for at least the idea of using gambling to pay for it among the governor and new Senate leadership. The Vikings' lease is up. There are sites -- here and in California -- competing for the business.

All the stadium proposals are due to Gov. Dayton by the end of Thursday. He plans to "act to make one of them a reality" in the upcoming legislative session.

"I think the facts will speak for themselves in large part," Dayton said last week. "I think one (proposal) will show probably to be a better option than the other or the others, and that will facilitate everyone's decision."

With one plan, the battle over financing and votes can finally take place. And the question Chenoweth asked nearly 40 years ago about the Metrodome -- what is the price? -- can finally be put up for discussion on a new stadium.

Got a plan? It's due to the governor by 5 p.m.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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