Vikings continue stadium quest

The Vikings aren't married to any site for a new stadium, but they are proceeding in negotiating with Ramsey County, despite the additional infrastructure costs there.

While there appears to be legitimate steam building for a proposed new stadium in Ramsey County, Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said Tuesday that the team has other questions as the stadium process begins its way through the State Legislature.

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."

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • By a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted to begin officially negotiating with the Vikings and the state to build a new stadium in Arden Hills. While the site has clearly been on the radar, the participation of the county commissioners and their staff hadn't been made official until Tuesday's vote.

  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is going to be making an unusual appearance for a league commish this week – on the op-ed pages of newspapers throughout the country. In his opinion column, Goodell said the time has come for the league and the players association to strike a deal. There's no word yet if NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith will seek equal print space to respond to the piece, but it's interesting that the league is taking its case to the streets and trying to reach readers who aren't necessarily football fans.

  • CBS Sportsline is reporting that Brett Favre is hoping to mend fences with Aaron Rodgers, but apparently he's hesitant. According to the story, which quoted an unnamed Packers player, Favre feels if he calls Rodgers, it could appear as though he's trying to steal some thunder and have it viewed as a grandstand play. If he doesn't contact him, he would be viewed as selfish and inconsiderate, but the player was clear that he knows "Brett wants to bury the hatchet."

  • There has been a lot of talk that owners will exercise their franchise tags in record numbers over the next couple of weeks. The flood has already begun and includes some of the game's biggest names, as Peyton Manning and Michael Vick joined a list that has swelled to five already – including San Diego's Vincent Jackson, Baltimore's Haloti Ngata, New England's Logan Mankins and the Jets' David Harris.

  • The Eagles used both of their tags Tuesday. Aside from Vick, they put the transition tag on kicker David Akers. There is speculation the Vikings might use both tags as a hedge against re-signing Chad Greenway and Sidney Rice.


    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.

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