Although the proposed Ramsey County stadium is gaining support, primarily because it is just 10 miles from the current Metrodome site, 11 miles from downtown St. Paul and very close to three major highways (I-35, Hwy. 694 and Hwy. 10) to somewhat reduce infrastructure cost concerns, there is still a strong contingent that believes a new stadium should be built on the current Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis. With the infrastructure already in place at the current site, it would be a cost that wouldn't be needed to be added on to the significant price tag of a new stadium.
Bagley said that if the Legislature approves a stadium on the current Metrodome site the Vikings would find themselves in a quandary. If December's game at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota proved anything, it was that it is ill-equipped to be an NFL stadium.
"We have a dialogue with Minneapolis," Bagley said. "We've had a couple of discussions with the mayor. There's likely to a premium at the Ramsey County site because of the infrastructure cost, but if the Metrodome site would be the site, we'd have the issue of having to play at TCF Bank for probably three seasons. That's a premium, too, because we now know, as we had our game there against the Bears Dec. 20, that's not an NFL stadium. It's a good college stadium, but TCF Bank doesn't really work for the Vikings long-term. It might be a nice stop-gap, but the loss of revenues would have to be factored in. While the infrastructure is all there at the Metrodome site, having to play at another location for two or three seasons is also a revenue issue that needs to be addressed."
Another spinning plate is the replacement of the Metrodome roof. Bagley said the Vikings are already asking the NFL to try to delay as much as possible the Vikings first home game. The current timetable would have the new roof completed by Aug. 1, with some wiggle room if the Vikings pushed back their first home preseason game to the third week of the preseason, which would be the last weekend in August if the 2011 season gets underway on schedule following the completion of a new collective bargaining agreement.
Bagley said the organization isn't surprised by the timetable, which seems long to fans who think it's simply a matter of replacing material and re-inflating the dome's roof. He said it was expected and is actually getting done faster thanks to work from new Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chairman Ted Mondale.
"We knew it is a significant undertaking," Bagley said. "We were encouraged by Ted Mondale's leadership. He just got appointed to the job a few weeks ago and his first order of business was to wrestle that issue to the ground and get going on it. Ted took immediate action and they got it as efficiently as they could. I think they start roof construction March 1. It takes some time. We knew when the thing went down that this wasn't going to be a quick or easy resolution. Unfortunately, that's where it is."
Getting the Vikings back in the Metrodome short-term and another stadium long-term are both issues that will be ongoing over the next few months and Bagley said both are important. The Vikings took a massive financial hit by being displaced, but he said what Vikings want is their home-field advantage back. He said you can't put a price tag on that.
"I think we're still tallying (the financial losses), but it's in the $12 to $18 million (range), somewhere in that ballpark for the games," Bagley said. "A portion of that will get returned through insurance. We're still looking through those numbers, but it was a significant loss as well as kind of a loss of the home-field advantage. That issue is a huge issue."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.