While the biggest hurdle, a legislative vote, hasn't been reached, the Vikings reportedly have reached an accord on the financial terms of a stadium bill.
Citing unnamed sources, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
reported Friday night that a preliminary agreement for a new Vikings stadium has been reach for the dividing of costs associated with the proposed $975 million stadium.
According to the report, the Vikings would pay $427 million of the construction cost, the state would kick in almost $400 million and the City of Minneapolis would contribute $150 million in up-front costs and another $180 to the operating costs over the next 30 years.
Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of stadium development, said no deal is in place. He said work is being done to finalize an agreement, but has long couched discussion of a stadium deal by numbers, specifically the numbers 67 and 34 – the number of state representatives and senators, respectively, needed to get state approval for its share of the costs. With Minneapolis being rumored to, over time, be responsible for $330 million, it is just as likely that the Minneapolis City Council would have to sign off – another vote that is far from a certainty.
The easiest approval the proposed stadium deal would have will come from the NFL, which has to sign off on it, too. Commissioner Roger Goodell has consistently stated the league wants to keep the Vikings in Minnesota and the more than half-century of history that the team has built in the state. If a viable stadium option does emerge, the NFL is expected to gladly sign off on the deal. But the league hurdle is the least of the concerns for those who want the 15-year stadium saga to come to a positive conclusion.
For those millions of Vikings fans who want the team to stay in Minnesota, Friday's reports that a deal may finally be coming is viewed as a positive sign in a journey that has been more like a mine field than the yellow brick road to maintaining a legacy. To steal an analogy from Gov. Mark Dayton, it appears the Vikings are on the 5-yard line ready to go in for a touchdown. The question remaining is this: Will their red zone effort result in a goal-line stand by politicians who never played the game so many fans love?
From the "Things That Make You Go Hmm" Department comes this: On Friday, Minnesota Senate Republican Majority Leader David Senjem threw out the prospect of holding a special session specifically to discuss the Vikings stadium issue. Given that the State Legislature is scheduled to meet until the end of April, it seems a bit premature to toss out the idea of ignoring a stadium proposal entirely during the scheduled session. It would be difficult to imagine that, during an election year, Governor Dayton would get the entire State Legislature to convene during the height of the campaign season in late summer or early autumn. Anyone with political knowledge knows that the main goal of many legislators from the day they take the job is to get re-elected. It seems from an outside observation to be a way to delay the process and then shoot it down when under the gun after the regular session ends.
The ego lineup continued Friday, as Warren Sapp, who once chased a head coach down the field, challenging him to put a uniform on play, brought his own ego to the court of public opinion. Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show Friday, Sapp was asked to comment on the attempted comebacks of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. When it came to T.O., he pointed out that, despite having very good quarterbacks in Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo, he found a way to publicly throw them all under the bus. In the Moss-Cris Carter war of words, he found a way to slam both of them. On Carter's comment about Moss "having a lot of quit in him," Sapp said it was the first thing he's ever heard Carter say that he agreed with in his years of commentary on the NFL. He then went after Moss, saying that, as a former teammate, he knows from where he speaks. He said he viewed Moss as "a frontrunner" – somebody who is great when things are going well, but at the first sign of adversity becomes a problem in the locker room.
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.