Reporting Pat Kessler
Filed underLocal, News, Politics, Seen On WCCO-TV, Sports, Syndicated Local, Vikings, Watch + Listen
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – It was an unusually long three hour meeting on Wednesday at the State Capitol, but it was about an issue that’s been going on for more than 10 years.
Minnesota Vikings staff and state lawmakers were behind closed doors.
Now, team owner Zygi Wilf said he’s more open than ever to putting a new stadium on Metrodome land in downtown Minneapolis. But does it mean they’re closer to a stadium deal at the State Capitol?
There remains a long way to go in the Vikings stadium saga, but it’s looking like it’s Metrodome or nowhere. Now the Vikings may be warming to the idea.
“We feel optimistic and confident that we can get something done,” Wilf said.
A renovated stadium at the site of the Metrodome was at the bottom of the Vikings preference list. The team was trying to make a deal and pledge big money to build in suburban Arden Hills.
Now, Vikings officials are acknowledging it they be forced to go where ever the legislature can get the most votes.
“We’re doing our due diligence right now to understand what issues we have to face to make sure the facility we participate in will be a world class venue,” Wilf said.
If the Vikings and state lawmakers reach a deal to build a new stadium on the Metrodome site, it comes with a slew of logistical problems.
Among the biggest problems: How to fit an NFL team into a smaller TCF Bank Stadium venue during new stadium construction. Another: Minneapolis is insisting that renovating the Target Center must be part of any stadium package.
“While I understand that there are some challenges with that here, we won’t be able to move forward without it,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
Arden Hills is not out of the picture, but it is fading fast. Ramsey County has until Friday to come up with a funding plan that can pass a reluctant state legislature.
That’s all happening as Minneapolis cobbles together a stadium plan to get just enough votes for passage.
“Any idea out there that we have is going to gain us some votes or lose us some votes. That’s why this is so difficult to put this together,” said Rep. Morris Lanning.
If the Vikings stadium is built on the Metrodome site, the Vikings would have to play at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota for three years.
They don’t like it, but they’re running out of options and time. How to pay for a stadium remains a major sticking point, too.
Slot machines at Canterbury Park and electronic pull tabs are options. One of the stadium authors said pull tabs may have the best odds of passing.