Councilman suggests Vikings should pay more

A Minneapolis councilman suggested the Minnesota Vikings should contribute more for a park next to the new stadium.

Considering how the Vikings are making sure that the stadium their team plays in doesn’t cut any corners during the construction of the stadium, it appears that the City of Minneapolis is close to doing the same with the public park being referred to as “The Commons,” a two-block park outside of U.S. Bank Stadium.

In an event to announce the progress of the fundraising effort for the park on the grounds Thursday, organizers announced that $7 million has been pledged by the city, Wells Fargo & Co. and Ryan Companies for the $22 million park project.

The City of Minneapolis has committed $19 million to the project, purchasing the old Star-Tribune newspaper property, for which the Vikings contributed $1 million. That money was the genesis of the park, which was little more than a two-block piece of land. The campaign to raise $22 million to build significant features to the park to make it iconic as opposed to a barren piece of land is the emphasis of the push to fundraise.

Jacob Frey of the Minneapolis City Council spoke at the event, saying that the park has the potential to be a showcase, but sent a veiled barb the Vikings’ way by noting that, aside from the contribution to the demolition of the Star-Trib, they have yet to be an active participant in beautifying the park space.

“We are delivering this beautiful blank slate and asking the business community to pony up for the icing,” Frey said. “There are three major players surrounding this park and two have already stepped up in a major way.”

The question that should be asked is how much more should the Vikings be kicking into the stadium project. When it was approved by the State Legislature, with a great gnashing of teeth by stadium opponents, there was a hard cap on the amount of contributions that would be put into the project.

The Wilfs have consistently picked up the bill for inside improvements to the stadium. Every time the contractors find a potential problem or have the option of having a cut-corner version of small aspects of the stadium, the Vikings have said “no” and put in additional money for the more luxurious option.

Consistently.

Since construction started, scarcely a month has gone by that the Vikings haven’t announced throwing in an extra few million dollars to make sure that the facility is an iconic showpiece.

Last month, they agreed to pay for another outside project that technically wasn’t in their job description, paying half the price for a $7 million light rail platform that will safely get fans coming to the game via the trains to get access to the stadium without having to negotiate traffic around the stadium. It wasn’t technically part of the stadium construction project, but the Vikings ponied up the money to get the job done – and the platform immediately became much improved.

There comes a time when you can squeeze the juice out of a reluctant turnip just so much. The Vikings may have reached that point. When you look at the added money that has come to the project, the lion’s share has come from Wilf accounts – not the city or the state or the county.

In the end, the Vikings could throw more money toward the project, but, if they don’t help kick in this facet of the project, they shouldn’t be blamed or shamed. Few can doubt they haven’t lived up to their end of paying for additional costs that have arisen from the massive stadium project.


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