Anoka County Stadium Deal Crumbling?

The Vikings' plan for a new stadium will be one of the hot topics when the next state legislative session begins in January. But, after having a stadium deal derailed at the last congressional session, the Vikings now face new hurdles to getting a stadium deal done.

At the last legislative session in Minnesota, stadium deals were struck for both the Twins and the University of Minnesota. It was hoped the Vikings would have a stadium deal included, but that fell through -- leaving many to speculate that a stadium deal on its own merits would fly in the 2007 session.

Unfortunately for Vikings fans, Plan A may not be as viable an option as it was six months ago. With political pressures coming into play in the November elections, the Vikings have become a hot-button issue in Anoka County.

VU has been told that at the Oct. 5 meeting of the Anoka City Council, a resolution is going to come forward requesting the county board of commissioners to make the 0.75 percent local sales tax proposal for constructing a stadium in Anoka County to be a referendum ballot question. A similar proposal from at least four other cities is expected to be approved on or before the Oct. 5 meeting in the City of Anoka.

What was once viewed as a slam dunk for a stadium deal in Anoka County is now clearly in jeopardy. A ruling by the Army Corps of Engineers concerning wildlife breeding grounds in the proposed stadium site has potentially put tacit approval of any stadium on hold for a year or more. If an environmental impact statement is required before a shovel can move ground, there could be a delay of a year or more and a hefty cost -- as opposed to a less-intrusive environmental assessment worksheet.

It is likely that, if the county board follows the wishes of the cities in its jurisdiction -- especially the city in which the stadium would call home -- the question of whether a stadium will be built at the proposed site is facing a crisis moment.

Anoka County officials have said that there is the belief that, if brought to the voters, the stadium deal will pass. But, it was hoped that eventuality could be avoided. It no longer looks like that will happen. If the citizens of Anoka County are Vikings fans, the initial belief may be confirmed. But, there are some who believe that Plan B options will likely have to be dusted off, because the Anoka County deal could die before the Vikings can get the Legislature to agree to a deal.

* A name to keep in mind Sunday -- Devin Hester. VU promoted the idea of the Vikings drafting the multi-faceted Hester, who played both offense and defense and returned punts at college for Miami. In the first two games of his rookie season, the Bears have used him solely as a punt returner. But VU has been told that the Bears have used Hester -- listed on the roster as a cornerback -- on offense and may be on the field Sunday with the Bears offense. When he takes the field, look for the Bears to use him on a reverse or a flanker screen to take advantage of the aggression of a Cover-2 defense and his speed in the open field.
* Both Troy Williamson and Artis Hicks were upgraded from questionable to probable on the Vikings' injury report Friday.
* Tarvaris Jackson is expected to have surgery Monday to, as head coach Brad Childress said, "clean out his knee." He is expected to be sidelined for up to a month -- likely the three games heading into the Vikings' bye week -- but may still be in uniform as the third quarterback for Sunday's game.
* For the second straight day, Kenechi Udeze spent the practice at right end, with Darrion Scott playing left end. With Erasmus James gone for the year, the Vikings are expected to designate Udeze as the pass rushing end -- with Scott expected to be more of a run stopper.
* Ciatrick Fason is likely to be inactive again this week. Behind starter Chester Taylor on the depth chart will be Mewelde Moore and Artose Pinner.

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