Vikings, stadium commission at odds

The Vikings want a new stadium, but they aren't happy with the commission that manages the Metrodome. It's creating an interesting dynamic in the search for a new Vikings home.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission held an unveiling of a proposed stadium project on the current site of the Metrodome – the only "facility" of import to the "facilities" commission – Thursday. The proposed $870 million stadium has just about everything – except the support of the Vikings.

The Vikings and the MSFC have been at odds about key issues of the Vikings as the sole revenue-producing tenant of the Metrodome, which came to a head earlier this month when the MSFC offered a lease extension to the Vikings, while at the same time saying that they would increase rent from $6 million to $10 million if the team didn't agree to the terms of the extension.

What followed was a terse selection of words between the Vikings and the MSFC. While neither side would come right out and say it, the two sides are as far apart as they could possibly be on the stadium issue. The Wilf family said in a letter to the MSFC that they found issue with the fact that the MFSC sought an extension to the current Metrodome lease, yet a month later, had a design/cost analysis on an elaborate stadium project.

In an official team statement released Thursday, the Vikings summed up the situation by saying, "While we have had the opportunity to provide some input into the Commission stadium design project, we are not in a position at this time to endorse their proposal. Given the MSFC's recent attempt to delay a stadium discussion for two years, we are moving forward with those leaders who want to resolve this issue in 2010. There is growing support among elected officials, business leaders, organized labor and Vikings fans to tackle this issue during the 2010 Legislative Session. We are encouraged by the increasing level of awareness that this issue needs to be resolved now in order to secure the long-term future of the team in Minnesota."

In touting the new stadium – which looks impressive – the architect in charge said the facility could host high school football games, motor races, political conventions and soccer – none of which would be revenue producers. Under the proposed plan, the Vikings would play two years in TCF Bank Stadium – a facility considerably smaller than the Metrodome and without the amenities NFL stadiums of the current era possess. Ironically, the presentation made the same sort of economic stimulus claims that the Vikings presented earlier this year – saying that $754 million of the cost of constructing the stadium would be for local subcontractors.

Although both sides remain respectful in the verbiage in which they publicly refer to one another, it would seem clear that a line is being drawn in the sand. Unless someone blinks – or at least is willing to get to the table for a meaningful discussion – the distinct possibility exists that the Vikings would look to partner with someone other than the MSFC, whether that is in Minneapolis or elsewhere. Without the Vikings in the Metrodome, the stadium would become a money pit and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission would eventually cease to exist due to a lack of facilities to commission.

FRIDAY NOTES

  • The Vikings injury report grew even bigger Thursday. For a second straight day, Percy Harvin didn't practice as he continues to suffer from migraine headaches. The nine players who were listed as limited in practice Wednesday remained so Thursday – Bernard Berrian, Cedric Griffin, Steve Hutchinson, Tyrell Johnson, Phil Loadholt, Karl Paymah, Visanthe Shiancoe, John Sullivan and Antoine Winfield. However, two more players were added to the list. Sidney Rice didn't practice due to an illness and Ray Edwards was limited with a back injury.

  • For a second straight day, Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme and cornerback Richard Marshall sat out practice. Running back Jonathan Stewart and wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad returned to practice. Third-string running back Tyrell Sutton was added to the injury report with a thigh injury and missed Thursday's practice.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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