Anoka County Plan Makes Sense

With a multitude of stadium plans for the Twins, Vikings and Gophers being thrown out, one has risen to the top -- of any proposal for the three entities. Fortunately for Vikings fans, it's a proposal for a football stadium.

"Blown away" was one phrase VU heard when asked about a proposal for a new Vikings stadium. During an economic time when many politicos are more concerned about votes in November than they are work in January, the Vikings may have been pushed to the front of the stadium pecking order as opposed to the back.

With the Vikings, Twins and University of Minnesota football team all looking for new (and separate) stadiums, a proposal officially unveiled by Anoka County and the City of Blaine has many thinking the Vikings will stay and move north – permantently.

In a package that would take land currently covered with trees and marshes and convert into a state-of-the-art multi-purpose complex, Vikings officials were thrilled by the prospect of getting into the revenue-generating stream of the NFL.

The Anoka County proposal clearly leaped ahead of vague proposals made by the cities of Eden Prairie (where the Vikings currently have their headquarters and practice facility) and Burnsville. The Anoka County/Blaine proposal is part of a big picture – with big bucks attached.

The Anoka County bid calls for a retractable roof stadium that would cost $500-600 million. But, it would be part of a grand scale project of $1.5 billion that would include restaurants, housing and business development. There are several facets to the project, but the primary concern is that the county would be willing to kick in $240 million of its own money. With an estimated $100 million Red McCombs has been rumored to be willing to pony up and the potential to still slide in under the wire for G-3 money from the NFL for stadium construction, the public trough money would be reduced to the neighborhood of $300 million.

The Twins remain mired in a battle between Minneapolis and St. Paul for a stadium and the U of M is likely to try to hit up its own patrons for private money. The Vikings stadium has become a separate issue very quickly and one that may move to the front burner for Legislators.

Under the proposed plan, the stadium would be a year-round facility/complex used for sporting activities, concerts and conventions. On Vikings game days, McCombs would reap every penny of revenue generated – something he sorely lacks in the pimped out lease at the Metrodome and the location, which doesn't allow the Vikings to reap the parking harvest.

Vikes V.P. Mike Kelly wouldn't go as far as to commit the Vikings' full support to the project because of the iffy nature of the State Legislature. But, he did say that if the state was willing to pony up the same $240 million that Anoka County has pledged, it would be a done deal.

The combination of stadium financing and local monetary support could be enough to get the Legislature off of Square One. With the proposal consolidating the Vikings games, headquarters, practice facility and training camp site in one location, it could cure one big headache. Minnesota can't afford to lose the Vikings. This latest option is an easy way out for everyone. Now it's up to the State Legislature to act responsibly and see that it gets done … if the reality of the Anoka County proposal makes as much sense as it does on paper.

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