A top NFL executive said Tuesday that league officials want the Vikings to remain in Minnesota but worry there won't be a financing plan in place to build a new stadium when the Metrodome's lease expires later this year.
Eric Grubman, the vice president who leads the NFL's business operations, met privately with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who is pushing for a special session by late November to deal with the stadium issue, though Republican legislative leaders have so far not jumped on the bandwagon.
The Democratic governor is holding several days of meetings with different stakeholders as he pushes for team supporters to assemble a plan that could get an up or down vote by lawmakers.
"We're worried about a stalemate," Grubman said after the meeting. "A stalemate means there's no lease, or the lease is about to expire; there's no plan for a stadium, and there's an alternative plan in another city."
Grubman said that would increase the probability of the Vikings moving somewhere else, though he wouldn't speculate just how likely.
"Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen," he said, but added the greater responsibility lies with Dayton and state lawmakers.
Besides meeting with Grubman and another NFL vice president on Tuesday, Dayton met with lawmakers on Monday. He plans to meet separately Wednesday with Vikings owners, officials from Ramsey County that are hoping the project will be built on a suburban parcel in Arden Hills, and with backers of a plan to open a downtown Minneapolis casino. Some tax proceeds from that casino could possibly be funneled to help with stadium construction.
Dayton reaffirmed after the NFL meeting that he takes seriously the prospect that the team could leave Minnesota and that failure to get a proposal through the Legislature in what's left of 2011 would likely end up delaying final resolution into 2013 or beyond.
Vikings owners and officials are pushing a $1.1 billion stadium plan at the Arden Hills site, with costs to be shared by Ramsey County, the state of Minnesota and the team. Grubman said the league could contribute as much as $150 million to the Vikings' share, pegged to be at least $400 million and possibly more if there are cost overruns.
Several potential stadium sites in Minneapolis are also in the mix, which Dayton has refused to rule out despite the team's insistence on Arden Hills.
Grubman declined to speculate about where the Vikings could end up if they were to leave Minnesota, but acknowledged the strong commitment by several Los Angeles business groups to land a new NFL franchise there. He said he realized public financing for a football stadium could be a tough sell in the current political environment and said Minnesotans would have to decide what they want for the Twin Cities area.
"People are not attracted to cities for the traffic jams," Grubman said. "You have to decide what reasons you want your city on the map."
NFL concerned about Vikings stadium stalemate
Viking Update Top Stories
Vikings have plenty of optionsRoger Goodell won't announce a Minnesota Vikings pick, but the water is fine for Minnesota to enter as the war room assesses the landscape of the 2017 draft ready to make their…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 11:48 PM
Mocks for Minnesota on Day 2The speculative mock drafts run deeper than the first round, with 212 versions of 52 mock drafts munched by Scout.com. Here is how some of them saw the Minnesota Vikings going in…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 8:25 PM
Vikings testify to production after Round 1The Minnesota Vikings didn’t have a first-round pick, but those drafted after Day 1 testify to the importance of what they do after the draft, not where they were drafted.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 8:03 PM
2017 VIKINGS DRAFT GUIDEInformation on the Minnesota Vikings' 2017 draft, from where they pick to position analysis, links to stories, mock drafts and more.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 12:35 PM