Whoa, Nellie — get ready for the mother of all journalistic conflicts of interest!
Star Tribune reporter Jennifer Bjorhus reported Tuesday that new Metropolitan Sports Facilities Chair Ted Mondale floated the idea of building a new Vikings stadium on Star Tribune land, rather than the Metrdome site a block east. The story contains the anodyne headline “Fifth option for Vikings stadium is next to Dome” when the pithier version is “Vikings stadium might mean bigger Star Tribune windfall.”
Presumably, you can fit a Purple Pleasure Palace between the Strib’s headquarters block and its surrounding parking lots. The dome would remain standing, new roof and all, as “Minnesota’s living room.”
All the calls are out, but right now, I don’t have anything more than Bjorhus’s report, which leaves open whether her paper and the Vikes have talked about this particular configuration. The Strib’s editorial page has cheerled for a Minneapolis stadium for years. (A Ramsey County version, not so much.) Those editorial-page disclaimers might have to get even longer!
Would leaving the Dome up mean Zygi Field doesn’t need a roof? That would lower the cost and likely offset whatever the public would pay for the Strib land, four blocks of which were once valued at $45 million, according to an abortive 2007 deal with the team. Though you could leverage the existing infrastructure, the tenant-less Dome would likely need a yearly subsidy, too.
Meanwhile, Strib management has made no bones about wanting to sell their site, while emphasizing their business plan doesn’t depend on it. (Their recent 2010 financial memos seem to confirm that.) These days, the 425 Portland headquarters resembles nothing so much as David Byrne’s “Big Suit,” a skinny staff roaming around a building designed for industrial-sized production.
Plenty of big-city newspapers have ditched their marble palaces for right-sized digs elsewhere; the Strib could cut a pretty good rental deal in this market and free up a ton of cash for investors or investments.