The Vikings are trying to close a $131 million funding gap because of roadwork needed near a proposed new stadium in Ramsey County, but their idea is being met with some skepticism and is threatened further by a potential government shutdown.
In an attempt to get the State of Minnesota off its hands in approving an Arden Hills stadium site, the Vikings and Ramsey County laid out a proposal that it hopes will end the $131 million roadblock for road construction around the proposed stadium site.
Vikings vice president of stadium development Lester Bagley and Ramsey County commissioner Tony Bennett met the media Monday to lay out their latest plan that they hope will be palatable to the state, which has said its $300 million funding cap wouldn't include the needed road improvements.
The plan would ask the state to pay $46 million in grants and a $4 million sales tax exemption on construction materials. The remaining amount, up to $81 million, would come from either local borrowing or an interest-free loan from the state that would be repaid by the Vikings.
The plan has already been met with skepticism from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which has maintained that the state's contribution of $300 million wouldn't include any state money that would be needed to improve the roads around the stadium.
While the state politicians continue to be at a stalemate that threatens to shut down the state government, the Vikings and Ramsey County are continuing to try to find ways to get a stadium deal approved. However, despite a new funding formula, it may be all for naught unless someone in the state political hierarchy tries to meet them halfway. Considering that the legislature can't agree on a budget bill to keep the government itself running, the outcome may once again be fraught with more opposition than it can handle.
The current flurry of activity in Los Angeles to get a new stadium clearly has the Vikings front and center as a candidate to relocate, especially if a stadium deal in Minnesota falls through. However, as it currently stands, the most likely choice would appear to be San Diego, which has been struggling to get a new stadium deal done and would require the least amount of relocation – of both the team and its fans – to make the trip up the coast to L.A.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier will the featured speaker Wednesday at a breakfast sponsored by the Sanctuary Community Development Corporation. Frazier's appearance will help benefit tornado-ravaged North Minneapolis, and he is scheduled to appear from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Ukrainian Event Center, 301 Main St. N.E. in Minneapolis. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at the SCDC website (www.sanctuarycdc.org).
USA Today is conducting a poll as to which team would make the most sense to relocate to Los Angeles and the Vikings are firmly in last place. Jacksonville tops the list at 31 percent of the vote, followed by St. Louis (17 percent), Oakland (15 percent), San Diego (10 percent) and the Vikings (5 percent). Ironically, the second-place finisher has been none of the above. One option, which said Los Angeles had its chance and shouldn't have a team relocate, took second place with 21 percent of the vote.
The Sporting News has released its annual NFL Preview magazine despite the lack of free agency that will change rosters dramatically. Going on the information it currently has available, TSN is predicting the Vikings to finish last in the NFC North with a 5-11 record.
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.