Vikings: Blaine Stadium Still Top Option

Looking to diffuse media reports of owner Zygi Wilf meeting with Minneapolis officials on Wednesday about development and stadium options, the Vikings called a press conference Thursday to reaffirm that their top option for a new stadium remains their partnership with the City of Blaine and Anoka County.

A day after Vikings owner Zygi Wilf met with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other city officials to discuss land development options in Minneapolis, the Vikings were trying to make it known that their partnership to build a new stadium in Anoka County was still their top option.

Officials from Anoka County, the City of Blaine, and the Vikings gathered for a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Blaine City Hall to put out that message.

"We were disappointed that the legislature did not approve our proposal during the 2006 legislative session, but pleased that they did pass legislation that moves the Vikings-Anoka County project forward," said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. "We believe the Blaine site is second to none and our partnership with Blaine and Anoka County remains solid. We are committed to completing the stadium development project here."

During the 2006 session, the legislature passed stadium bills for a new football stadium for the Minnesota Gophers and a new baseball stadium for the Minnesota Twins, but the Vikings and Anoka County were denied additional funding to execute on their partnership for a Vikings stadium. However, the two entities were directed to prepare to present their proposal at the 2007 legislative session.

"The partnership between Anoka County, Blaine and the Minnesota Vikings remains strong," said Anoka County Board Chair Margaret Langfeld. "This project is about keeping the Twin Cities balanced, healthy and strong with major developments distributed throughout the entire metro area that benefit us all. The development is expected to create 4,300 construction jobs, 6,900 permanent jobs, and will pay significant property taxes and sales taxes for our community and for the entire state."

Anoka County, Blaine, and Wilf have proposed a more than $1.5 billion mixed-use development on a 740-acre site in Blaine along I-35W. The development would include a Vikings stadium and team headquarters, hotel and conference center, medical facility, housing, preserved wetlands, and trails, corporate offices, and a specialty retail and entertainment center called "The Northern Lights at Blaine."

* The Vikings Ride for Life, a charity event to benefit the Viking Children's Fund, is tomorrow. The event features current and former players, including Steve Hutchinson, Dontarrious Thomas, Richard Owens, John Randle, Bob Lurtsema, Stu Voigt, Paul Krause and Doug Sutherland. They and Vikings cheerleaders will lead a 75-mile ride from Champps in Maplewood to the Grand Outdoor Amphitheater in Hinckley. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. with the ride starting at 11:30 a.m. and the cost is $15.

Music from The Resistors, food, beverages and $25,000 in prizes, including a $12,500 cash prize, will await riders at the amphitheater. This and other events have raised over $7.35 million for the Viking Children's Fund since 1978. For more information, call 952-828-6577.

* The Vikings are saying there will be an "extremely limited" number of single-game and two-game minipacks of tickets that go on sale Saturday. They can be purchased from 8 a.m. until noon in person at the Metrodome Gate B ticket booth or starting at 9 a.m. at all Midwest Ticketmaster locations, by phone through Ticketmaster at 651-989-5151, or via the internet at Single-game ticket prices range from $40-$119. If available, tickets for the Green Bay, Chicago and New England games will only be sold in the following regular-season/preseason two-game minipacks: Green Bay (Nov. 12) and Oakland (Aug. 14), Chicago (Sept. 24) and Baltimore (Aug. 25), or New England (Oct. 30) and Baltimore (Aug. 25). Those packages range from $80-$238 ($40-$119 per game). Due to the limited availability, Vikings fans will be able to purchase eight tickets per regular season game. Five-game packages or season tickets are available immediately by calling 612-338-4537.

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