Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Efforts to win legislative approval of a new publicly-owned Vikings football stadium are coming down to the wire.
Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley admits, “The 2011 session is a critical session for us.”
That’s because after 10 years of talking and little action, the team is running out of options and patience.
The Viking’s lease at the Metrodome is set to expire in just 10 home games, at the end of the 2011 NFL season. So Minnesota lawmakers will get their best, and perhaps final, shot at approving a new stadium when the next session begins in early January. But the question becomes, if one is eventually approved, where would the new stadium be built?
Bagley said the team is narrowing its options and expects to finalize its best stadium package soon.
But without tipping his hand, Bagley says, “there are three Minneapolis sites and one suburban site we’re looking into, but I’d rather not identify or speak for anybody else.”
However, sources with knowledge of the process say three of the four parcels being considered include the Metrodome, a site west of Target Field near the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, as well as a suburban site in Arden Hills. That’s the long vacant home to the U.S. Army ammunition plant.
Rebuilding at the 20-acre Metrodome site would mean playing at TCF Bank Stadium for up to three NFL seasons, to allow time for demolition and construction of the new stadium.
On the positive side is the fact that infrastructure, including the Hiawatha light rail line is already in place.
Transit, parking, utilities and potential for ancillary development will be keys to any potential stadium site.
The Minneapolis Farmer’s Market site would continue to build on the energy and vitality brought to the city’s west side when Target Field opened. This site, too, is attractive to developers, with the presence of the NorthStar Commuter Rail and the connecting Hiawatha line. Its downside could be a lack of immediate parking and distance from the city-owned parking ramps.
If the Viking’s opt for a suburban location, the team could choose from 580 acres of available land along Interstate 35W and Highways 10, 610 and 96 in Arden Hills. There’s plenty of room for surface parking, hotels and other development.
“We’ve had three or four that we’ve working on, studying on and we think we’re very close to coming forward with an ideal site,” said Bagley.
In any case, the Viking’s proposal likely won’t call for a retractable roof, which pushes the cost over $900 million. State lawmakers will have to add that to the overall project if they indeed want a year-round facility.
The team expects to finalize a site as well as stadium costs and how to fund it within the next 30 to 60 days.
WCCO-TV’s Bill Hudson Reports