Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and Vice President of Stadium Development Lester Bagley conducted a conference call with season-ticket holders Thursday and fielded a series of questions from fans, ranging from the legitimate (retractable roof) to the entertaining (trough urinals).
The bigger issues involve the stadium timeline and whether the stadium roof will be a fixed roof or a retractable roof. According to Bagley, the project is being fast-tracked to get started soon. The first step in that process will be to hire an architect, which Bagley stated would take place within the next 60 to 90 days.
The Vikings are expected to seek out input on stadium amenities from fans and sponsors and reiterated that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis remains the template. As for a construction schedule, once an architect is selected, the pre-construction phase will take approximately six to nine months, which would likely lead to construction beginning next spring.
Wilf said the Vikings are taking what he called a "hard look" at a retractable roof on the new stadium – something that might increase the $975 million construction cost and would be the responsibility of the Vikings to pay if approved. Wilf said the team has viewed the roof at Marlins Park in Miami as an example of what can be done in terms of a retractable roof.
One of the more important questions being asked led to an admission by Wilf that the Vikings may have to play two seasons at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. While the team remains hopeful that the relocation to the undersized Gophers' stadium will only take one season (presumably 2015), the potential exists (and seems almost inevitable) that the Vikings will move into The Bank for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The new stadium is slated to open in 2016.
Bagley added that the Vikings could be looking to sell personal seat licenses, a tactic many organizations use to help defray stadium costs and believes that the process is viable in the Minnesota, but said no final decision on whether to issue PSLs will be made. Other issues like available tailgating areas were also discussed.
The conference call eventually got to serious topics, but it didn't start the way. The first question asked was whether the massive metal trough urinals that are in the men's rooms at the Metrodome would be included as part of the new stadium. It elicited chuckles from Wilf and Bagley and Wilf seemed confident the days of the trough urinals will end when the Vikings leave the Metrodome.
The stadium issue has been the biggest story of 2012 to date and, from the sound of things, it's going to be a story that continues to dominate headlines through when the hard work begins – building a state-of-the-art stadium in the footprint of the retiring stadium they currently play in. As long as the urinal question is out of the way, things can only get easier from here, right?
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.
Vikings answer stadium questions for fans
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