If it wasn’t evident before, the December 2010 collapse of the Metrodome roof made it abundantly clear that the Minnesota Vikings desperately need a new stadium.
But with the team’s lease on the Metrodome already expired on the 30-year-old facility, time is running short for the Vikings to find a new home.
Gov. Mark Dayton and Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf unveiled plans Thursday for a new, $975 million stadium in downtown Minnesota. Based on their proposal, the project would create as many as 15,000 jobs and could be ready to open as soon as 2016 if the plans are approved this year.
But therein lies the problem. All of Minnesota’s 201 lawmakers are up for reelection this year, and agreeing to an exorbitant construction project financed in large part by taxpayer dollars might not help their cause.
“I can’t see a way for me to vote for it,” said Sen. Jeff Hayden, a Minneapolis Democrat. “My constituents have weighed in consistently that they do not want public financing of private stadiums.”
Under the proposal, the public would provide $737 million in funds ($398 million from the state and $339 million from the city of Minneapolis) while the team would cover the remainder of the construction and operating costs. The total cost of the project, including operating costs, is estimated at nearly $1.5 million. The state funds would be raised from the authorization of an existing pull-tab gambling game.
The stadium would be built on the same site as the Metrodome and while all profits from football games would go directly to the Vikings, a new public entity would keep all revenue generated from other sports contests, concerts and other events.
And current skeptics need only look back to the Minnesota Twins’ Target Stadium project. That, too, was initially greeted with plenty of opposition, but last year the Twins ranked fourth the Major League Baseball in average attendance (behind only the Phillies, Yankees and Giants) — up from 14th in 2009, their final season at the Metrodome.
But above all, any structure that can do this....
needs to be replaced.
“The time has come for Minnesota to make a decision,” said Rep. Morrie Lanning, a Republican and the chief House stadium negotiator. “Minnesota needs to decide if it wants to keep the team here. I do.”
Other representatives don’t feel the same way.
“I’m a Vikings fan ... I don’t want to see them leave,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers said. “That doesn’t mean we can put together a bad deal.”
If they don’t, their team could be headed West. Los Angeles continues to move forward on stadium plans in the hopes of attracting an NFL franchise, and if the Vikings can’t find a new home — and soon — the Purple Pride could be L.A. bound.