McCombs Looking U of M Again?

In hopes of getting a stadium deal done, Red McCombs is looking back into a partnership with the University of Minnesota, but this time may not find a willing partner.

The saga of a stadium partnership between the Vikings and the University of Minnesota may take yet another turn in the coming weeks. VU's hearing from team sources that owner Red McCombs is again looking at a partnership with the U of M to get a stadium deal done, but it may not happen this time around.

If you recall, the Vikings and university officials were hot and heavy about getting a joint venture done a year ago. However, the Vikings backed out of a university proposal for a couple of reasons. First was going to be the issue of parking at an on-campus site, or more appropriately, lack of parking needed for an NFL facility. Second, and more importantly from the sources with the Vikes we've talked to, was the site itself. Built atop an old landfill, before any ground could be broken for a stadium, more than $100 million would need to be spent to remove potentially contaminated soil from the site -- which was a deal-breaker for the Vikings.

Now the Vikings are looking to re-ignite talks with the university, realizing the team's best chance of getting a stadium deal done quickly would be to work with the U of M instead of on separate stadiums. But they may find out the university is committed to an on-campus stadium -- with or without the Vikings. While some old-school hardliners scoffed when the team moved off-campus to the Metrodome -- just a few miles away -- any stadium in the suburbs would be viewed as much too far away for the school to be a joint interest in the project.

* VU has been told the U of M's plan for a stadium will be on campus and seat about 40,000 fans. It is expected that a plan will be unveiled soon and will include largely private donations from alumni to pay construction costs.
* Another blow to McCombs' hopes of getting a new stadium sooner than later came from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. The MSFC reported Saturday that new turf will be installed in the Metrodome following the 2003 Vikings season -- a clear sign that the stadium will be used for at least another two to three years.
* With the Twins bill stalled in the State Legislature because of the state's budget deficit, it appears the soonest the Twins can be in a new stadium is 2008 -- about the earliest the Vikings could be in their new digs.
* The Jimmy Kennedy saga continues. The DT passed over by the Vikings suffered knee and ankle sprains in the Rams first minicamp. This weekend at the second minicamp, he again left the field injured -- this time with a bone bruise to his left knee. One of the factors Mike Tice used in passing on Kennedy was questioning his ability to stay healthy at the next level.

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