MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings significantly advanced their new stadium plan this year, finding a public partner to help fund the proposed $1.1 billion project and hearing supportive words from the state’s new governor.

Minnesota’s $5 billion budget deficit blocked the path to progress, though, and the partisan impasse over how to fill that gap forced the state government to shut down at the beginning of the month, shoving the stadium to the background.

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate have been busy this week completing their agreement to put Minnesota back in business and guide state spending for the new cycle, but the Vikings were dealt another setback.

The stadium won’t be considered during this special session of the Legislature, and Dayton said Tuesday he’s reluctant to call another special session later in the year to address a request the team first raised more than a decade ago.

“I haven’t decided. It’s not ready to be considered at this point,” Dayton said. “We’ll have to see if negotiations proceed to a point where it can be. … I take calling a special session very seriously and something I would not do routinely. It would have to be circumstances that compel it, and, again, I don’t know whether those will occur or not.”

Vikings vice president for public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley offered a rather ominous response.

“All I can tell you is that we are assessing our options,” Bagley said, declining to elaborate.

The Vikings have begun the final year of their lease at the 29-year-old Metrodome, now called Mall of America Field, which is getting a new roof after the old one collapsed during a snowstorm last December. In February, when the lease expires, they will essentially be free agents. Next year’s regular session of the Legislature begins in January.

While owner Zygi Wilf has repeatedly said he won’t move the team, developers in Los Angeles — two different groups have stadium plans for the nation’s second-largest market — have inquired before about his interest in selling the franchise. If the lease expires without much more progress toward a new building, Los Angeles is sure to beckon again.

“What would you do if you had a chance to go to Los Angeles?” asked Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who worked with the Vikings on a plan to build a suburban stadium in Arden Hills on a polluted old army ammunitions site about 10 miles north of the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis and open it in 2015.

Wilf and the Vikings have pledged more than $400 million to the project, which also calls for a half-cent sales tax in Ramsey County that would contribute another $350 million. They’ve asked for $300 million in state money.

“We were ready. The Vikings were ready,” Bennett said. “But apparently the Legislature wasn’t ready and the Governor wasn’t ready, based on what he’s saying.”

He added: “We were making some progress, and then we went into a deadlock on the budget. Of course the budget is a much higher priority. I don’t consider it in same room. We agreed to keep the stadium in the background, but we had pretty good assurances that the House and the Senate would allow this to go forward.”

Several state legislators expressed concern about pushing a stadium now, given the already strong public backlash about the budget deficit and the shutdown. The 2012 session, with re-elections looming, could be an even more adverse political climate through which to navigate a stadium bill.

“We’ve done everything that has been asked of us,” Bagley said last week. “It’s time to do it. We’re down to months left on our lease and every day that goes by, the cost of the project goes up.”

Bennett spoke Tuesday by phone from Portland, Ore., where he attended an annual conference for the National Association of Counties. He said he was razzed by a couple of his colleagues from California about the possibility of the Vikings moving to Los Angeles.

“But I think we can keep them here. The Governor said he wanted jobs. Well, there’s 13,000 jobs, for three years,” Bennett said, referring to estimates of how many construction workers would be needed for the project.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (28)
  1. Vikessuk says:

    Yay Governor, boo Zippy.

  2. jan says:

    Just what we need now is a stadium. They’ll build it, improve the roads for another 200 million or more and then when it opens, they’ll want light rail to go there so they’ll tear up all the new roads they built and put in streetcars. They can get the money from whoever has any left amd make some big cuts in other programs to pay for it. Has the state gone stark raving mad?

  3. Finally - good job by Dayton! says:

    Good going Gov … for once I agree with you 100%!

    Take your begging elsewhere Zygi … we’ve had enough of your requests for $650 million taxpayer dollars that need to be used for far more important things than your personal wealth.

    I have to pay my own way, you should do the same.

    Thanks for NO special session for a stadium, gov!

  4. Ole' Haannsgruud says:

    It’s a shame the Vikings could leave this state This is bulls@@t!!!!!! The Vikings are as Minnesota as ice fishing, venison sausage, and Grain Belt Beer. I vote we rename our state East Dakota in our special session.

  5. frank says:

    See Ya Vikings! I hope that you Enjoy LA!! Dont Ever come back!!!

    1. Skol always says:

      Every one of you that say goodbye and go to La can go and F*#K YOURSELVES you pieces of excrement. You don’t belong in Minnesota, so get the F*$k out of here. Hail Vikings forever. Get a stadium done.

      1. Ole' Haannsgruud says:

        I agree with you 110% Skol always!!! Well said.

      2. Tough talk from the beer can again. says:

        I see you’re coming off of your beer buzz. Time for you to go practice your tailgating again. Have another beer and go back to sleep. Stop bothering the sane people of MN.

  6. ute says:

    “Da LA Vikings” has a certain ring to it.

  7. rcunningham says:

    These comments disgust me. Where’s the compassion for Vikings fans?

    1. You're kidding, right? says:

      Compassion for Vikings fans? Surely you jest. Vikings fans were gloating when it looked like a shoe in to stick taxpayers for at least $650 million.

      Where’s the compassion for the family who has four or five mouths to feed, two or three children to clothe and educate? You and Zygi would be happy to force them to pay for your entertainment.

      No sir, I don’t think you deserve any more compassion than you do tax dollars.

      1. NO,YOURE KIDDING RIGHT? says:

        You and your four or five mouths will do what you’ve always done, feed off of welfare. Learn about planned parenthood and maybe you would’nt be in such a mess. My TAXES are paying for welfare eat it up!!!!!!

        1. No, I'm not kidding. says:

          Thank you for your concern and advice but I have a good job that I enjoy and I do fine paying for my family’s needs. I just don’t have extra money to support your loud-mouthed, drunken entertainment or the rich owners’ and players’ life styles.

          Now here’s a tip for you: There really is life beyond tailgating.

          1. The Architect says:

            Neither the Vikings nor Zygi Wilf will get a single red cent from the stadium proposal.

            You should at least know that prior to spouting off your moronic opinions on nothing relevant at all to the stadium or the Vikings, don’t you think?

            The stadium would be owned by the State of MN. The Vikings would have a lease only. They would play 10 games per year there. Please know what you’re talking about.

            1. And you're the Harvard grad? I think not. says:

              Say what? Putting taxpayer money – $650 million of it – into a new stadium doesn’t put money in Wilf’s or the players’ pockets? Is that the garbage you’re trying to feed us?

              Well, then it shouldn’t matter to you if we don’t do that, right, Einstein?

  8. What's wrong with this option? says:

    Zygi has to dome to himself now. All of the infrastructure is already in place. It’s centrally located, accessible by public transportation, and he could renovate it any way he wants it for a fraction of the cost of a new stadium – which he could and should pay for himself, without taxpayer funds..

    If that isn’t good enough for him, goodbye and good riddance.

    1. The Architect says:

      “and he could renovate it any way he wants it for a fraction of the cost of a new stadium”

      False. The Metrodome is outdated and unsuitable for the upgrades that are needed to put it on par with any of the other facilities in the country.

      1. I am in awe over your 'telligence. Yuk, yuk. says:

        Another kettle of garbage from the Harvard grad wanna be. You plunk out “facts” on about the same level as the rest of us empty our bowels.

        Hey, you must be related to the ol’ fleecer Zygi, huh?

  9. Hats off to Dayton! says:

    Dayton finally crossed the goal line for the taxpayers of Minnesota when he decided not to call a special session to bless a new Vikings stadium.

    That’s the best thing he’s done as governor and it’s about time somebody stood up to that King of Beggars Zygi Wilf.

  10. Paul Bunyan says:

    I agree with you rcunningham, the people who post some of these negative comments clearly have no personalities or lives. KEEP THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS IN MINNESOTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. A Viking Fan from Dallas says:

    What is wrong with you people? Do you not understand the amount of revenue that a new stadium would bring to MN? If you want to keep the Vikings in MN then stand up and let YOUR representatives know how you feel! Unless that is you believe that it is more important to funnel tax dollars to study how playing mozart impacts the mating habits of the dung beetle! Bah!

    1. Bless you, you poor ignorant fool. says:

      I’m so happy you don’t live here. We have enough riff-raff already.

  12. TJ says:

    Dear Vikings fan,

    You probably know a lot about football but little about economics. There is no net revenue gain from a sports franchise. It is called the substitution effect, a microeconomic phenomenon. If the Vikes moved, the sports entertainment dollar will simply be spent on substitute entertainment. Not even the construction industry would benefit from state funding as most of the jobs generated from the recent construction of Target field were filled by migrant construction workers. In short a new stadium actually results in $’s leaving the state through player salaries, mostly migrant construction workers and earnings by a non-resident Vikings front office. Study after study shows that subsidies for sports teams are a bad deal.

    1. The Architect says:

      This isn’t about a sports team subsidy.

      It’s about an up-to-date stadium facility for the state of Minnesota, which has one of the oldest and least suitable facilitites in the entire country.

      Study after study is showing you don’t even know what the issue is or who it affects.

      1. Mr. High and Mighty Smart Fella says:

        Wow, you’re on a roll today. If it isn’t the equivalent of a subsidy, what is it? A handout? A charitable contribution?

        I don’t care what you want to call it, it’s wasting taxpayer money to benefit a loud, uncouth minority who insist that other people pay for their good times.

        But … talking to you is … well, as my sainted mother used to say “You can’t reason with an unreasonable person.” Guess she nailed you, didn’t she?

        1. God bless mom says:

          I like it.

        2. Working Class says:

          More negative dribble from a Foley ged grad. Why are’nt you work smart guy? I just finished my shift in this unbearable heat and I support my taxes being used on something I belive in and a part of Minnesota I enjoy. The Architect nailed the facts. So smart guy go find a job and get incomed taxed and help benefit our state instead of sittin in front of your computer on a work day.

  13. Joe says:

    I say let the Vikings go,,,also stop welfare and food stamps and free health care to ALL the people that Don’t want to work and are proud of the fact they are 3rd and 4th generation welfare…They actually brag about it. Also, let’s start mandatory drug tests for ALL welfare and food stamp receipiants.

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