Senator Roger Reinert of Duluth is the latest politician to introduce a Vikings stadium bill in the district he serves, but the Vikings are concentrating on the two "viable" sites left – the proposal on the site of the Metrodome and an Arden Hills proposals that still has some life left in it, according to Vikings vice president of public affairs/stadium development.
On Thursday, Reinert sent a letter to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton introducing a proposal that would make Duluth the new home for the Minnesota Vikings. The basis for his proposal is the Green Bay Packers playing within two hours of Madison and Milwaukee, believing a similar result could be had by having Duluth host the Minnesota Vikings. Duluth is 155 miles north of Minneapolis, where the Vikings currently play their games, and 172 miles from Eden Prairie, where the Vikings' Winter Park facility is located.
"Stationing the Vikings in Duluth is economically advantageous and will help further supplant the message that the Vikings represent all of Minnesota and are not exclusive to the metropolitan areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul," Reinert said in a statement.
Bagley said the Vikings applaud Duluth's interest in helping find a stadium solution and appreciate the fan base in Duluth, but, with the Minnesota legislature three weeks into a 10-week session, the team is concentrating on the Minneapolis and Arden Hills plans.
In the Duluth proposal, the stadium would be located southwest of downtown Duluth on a 500-acre plot that once housed US Steel/Atlas Cement. Like a proposal to clean up the Arden Hills site, a former Army munitions plant, the Duluth site is already undergoing an environmental clean-up.
Duluth already supports a tourism industry in excess of 3.5 million tourists annually with a direct economic impact ranging from $750-$780 million, according to the release.
A 155-mile Northern Lights Express passenger rail from the Twin Cities to Duluth is also mentioned in the release. That line is expected to be operational in 2015, according to the release.
So how will the state's portion of the stadium be paid for under the Duluth proposal? Through the passage of a bill to allow liquor sales on Sundays, which is estimated to generate $10.6 million in net revenue each, although that might not even come close to covering the state's cost. No mention is made how the Duluth community would raise its portion of the funding, either.
"The Vikings fan base is one of the largest Sunday Sales advocates. They're the very ones headed over the border on a Sunday pregame run," the statement reads. "Sunday Sales doesn't create a new tax, and it doesn't raise any taxes. It simply captures revenue currently lost to our neighboring states, especially Wisconsin."
Bagley said the Vikings haven't met with Duluth officials or seen anything more than the letter and proposal presented to Dayton on Thursday.
"My proposal would benefit all parties involved," Reinert said in the release. "Duluth is a vibrant and growing regional economy that has weathered this past recession well. The Vikings in Duluth merit serious consideration."
The Duluth plan is the latest in a line of proposals from Arden Hills to Shakopee to multiple possibilities in Minneapolis. The plan with the most momentum right now is to build a stadium next to the Metrodome, which would allow the Vikings to play in the Metrodome for all but a few games while a new stadium is being built.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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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