Just when you think that stadium issue for the Vikings couldn't get any stranger, there is a new plan that would potentially reduce the number of games that the Vikings would have to play at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota.
The new plan would entail building the new stadium next door to the Metrodome, where the Vikings would be able to play through the 2015 season. At that point, stadium negotiator Ted Mondale said, the stadium would be approximately 75 percent finished. When that happens, the Metrodome would be torn down, replaced by a larger outdoor plaza for fan activities and a massive parking lot to accommodate fan parking issues.
Under the plan, the Vikings would play less than half of the 2016 season at TCF Bank Stadium. The current Metrodome plan would require that the Vikings play up to three seasons at The Bank, which is currently a non-starter for the NFL because the stadium doesn't meet league-mandated minimum seating requirements and is substandard in terms of things like heating coils under the field and stadium revenue streams (because it on the University of Minnesota campus, a special legal dispensation would be needed to allow for alcohol sales).
The latest proposal is the sixth different stadium proposal to come forward – this one coming after the "deadline" imposed by Gov. Mark Dayton last month. Initially, the Vikings reached an agreement that would have built a stadium on an abandoned tract of land in Arden Hills. Minneapolis had three stadium site proposals spinning in the months after the Arden Hills plan was shot to pieces – one on the Metrodome site, one in the Farmer's Market area and a third by the Basilica of St. Mary. A last-minute plan from the City of Shakopee came out of the blue on the day proposals needed to be submitted, but was never fully vetted or given serious consideration.
The anticipated "sister stadium" proposal would carry a price tag of approximately $1 billion, that would include as much as $340 million in state financing, which would largely be generated by revenue coming from a proposal to open up the electronic pull tab industry.
It is unclear at this point whether the Vikings would be in favor of the "sister stadium" proposal. The Vikings committed $425 million to the Arden Hills project, but have yet to commit a similar amount to a Minneapolis proposal.
After years of opportunities to work out a stadium plan, those in charge of stadium financing and getting a proposal that can garner enough votes to pass are scrambling once again. This time, they're trying to obtain cost estimates to firm up a final stadium figure.
While it is good news that the state is looking for options other than simply resigning itself to a Metrodome-only proposal, it may make it more difficult to bring over legislators on the fence, because, as controversial as the stadium issue has been over the last 18 months, the post-deadline wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes may not provide the result sought by those charged with getting a stadium bill done. If anything, it might give those who oppose a stadium more ammunition to make the claim that there are more questions than answers with the new site.
Just when you think the Vikings out of the stadium talk, another proposal pulls them back in.
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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