Vikings say they want new stadium at Metrodome site
The Minnesota Vikings say they plan to ask the Legislature to approve a plan to build a new football stadium with a retractable roof on the site of the Metrodome.
Minneapolis (AP) — But team officials also said Thursday that they weren't ready to say whether they have a financing plan or partner ready to go.
In a story for Friday's editions, the Star Tribune reported that the Vikings' financial strategy is expected to become evident after the tentative design plans are unveiled Feb. 1, which would give the team enough time to make its case to the 2007 Legislature.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he was waiting to see which local government would take the lead in pushing the stadium. "The thing I'll be looking for, amongst other things in a deal like this, is who is the local host," he said Friday.
He said Minneapolis has an ordinance that essentially restricts spending on stadiums and Hennepin County has already committed to a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins. "So I'm not sure ... how one or both of those places can host," he said.
Pawlenty said he thought the Legislature was more likely to take up the issue in 2008 than 2007, but noted the team was surprisingly effective in making its case during the past session.
"To me, it feels more like a 2008 issue, but the Vikings have been pretty persistent and pretty effective at least getting heard at the Capitol," he said.
On Dec. 22, the Vikings sent a letter to new House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and new Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller to update them following the end of their discussions with Anoka County. The county rescinded its offer to help build a new stadium in Blaine after it became clear the Vikings were refocusing their interest on downtown Minneapolis.
In the letter, written by team vice president Lester Bagley on behalf of owner Zygi Wilf, Bagley said Vikings fans, sponsors and local business leaders "have clearly communicated" their preference for keeping the Vikings in Minneapolis.
"The Metrodome site provides for the most cost-efficient location in Minnesota," Bagley wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Pawlenty.
A Kelliher spokesperson said Kelliher would have no comment on the letter, while Pogemiller's office said he was unavailable.
"We're not ready to say we have a plan or partner," Bagley told the Star Tribune Thursday. But he told the newspaper that "dialogues will continue to take place with business and political leaders" and that the Vikings will need cooperation "from state leaders at all levels."
Representatives from the Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome spent two days in San Francisco this week, reviewing designs being drafted by the ROMA Group, an urban planning firm that also is studying a potential revitalization of the east side of downtown Minneapolis.
"It won't be a finished product," Bill Lester, executive director of the commission, said of the ROMA study. "It's their version of what could happen."
The Metrodome can't be torn down until the Twins are close to completing their new stadium, which is due to be ready for the 2010 season. The Vikings have begun talking with the University of Minnesota about temporarily playing in the new Gophers stadium after the Metrodome is demolished, the Star Tribune reported.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
- All Things Considered, 01/19/2007, 5:25 p.m.