The latest offer is a proposal that the Vikings have made to the Met Council to construct a $6 million pedestrian bridge that will connect the light rail system in Minneapolis to the doors of the new stadium.
Initially, the Met Council was set to foot the entire cost of the bridge, which was estimated at between $6-7 million. However, some members of the Met Council complained that the Vikings should pay the totality of the cost or at least a portion of it, despite the fact that the Vikings and their stadium have nothing to do with the city’s existing light rail system.
In the form of a compromise, the Vikings have offered to pay up to $3.5 million to connect the stadium to the Downtown East light-rail station across the street from the stadium.
The Met Council is set to discuss and likely vote on the new proposal at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Met Council and the Vikings have been negotiating a deal for the last month. At the May 27 meeting of the Met Council, staff was authorized to negotiate with the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to try to strike a bargain.
The proposed pedestrian bridge would be a vital hook-up to connect the city’s light rail to the stadium not just for Vikings games, but for the numerous other events that will be held at the stadium. The train station, which connects the city’s Green Line and Blue Line routes is at the busy intersection of Fourth Street South and Chicago Avenue. The purpose of the bridge would be to provide safe pre- and post-event access to the light rail system and the stadium, which will be vital since hundreds of events are expected to be held at the stadium each year outside of the regularly scheduled slate of Vikings games.
Under the revised agreement, in exchange for paying half of the construction cost (up to $7 million), the Vikings would receive 50 percent of the revenue generated by the sale of signage and advertising at the train station platform over the next 30 years. The agreement, if approved, would start being implemented on Aug. 1, 2016.
Under the proposal, the Vikings would pay any additional costs for design associated with the bridge and the Met Council would be responsible for operation and maintenance costs for the structure.
It’s hard to imagine that there are still critics of the Wilf family for getting public money included in the stadium project – a contribution that may well be covered simply by the week of the Super Bowl when it comes to the new facility.
It would seem that every time the project looks like it might have a hole in it or something missing that would keep it from being ideal, the Vikings find a way to contribute more money to the project. This time around, providing safety to those attending Vikings games or other events at U.S. Bank Stadium may be as important as any additional contribution the Wilfs have made to the project.