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Vikings still working on stadium proposal to bring to Legislature

As tough as the political/fiscal landscape appears, Vikings  owner Zygi Wilf keeps plugging away at a plan to bring a new stadium proposal to the 2009 Legislature.

More evidence of that came Wednesday, when Wilf and Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president for public affairs and stadium development, visited Minneapolis City Hall and met with Tina Smith, Mayor R.T. Rybak’s chief of staff, and some other key city officials, such as City Council President Barb Johnson.

Plans to renovate/rebuild the Metrodome were discussed. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has hired an architect and construction firm to nail down plans and costs. That should be available by March 1, right smack dab as things heat up at the Capitol.

There was one key meeting of the minds Wednesday.

“We all have shared interest in the redevelopment potential around the stadium,” Smith told MinnPost. “The mayor believes one of the exciting things is [Wilf’s] expertise in development.”

Expect there to be lots of talk at the Legislature about how a Vikings stadium and surrounding development can generate jobs.

There was no table banging. No demands. Just an update, Smith said. But one thing is certain: There’s no cash in the city’s till to aid what’s certain to be a nearly $1 billion project.

“Minneapolis is very lucky and very fortunate because we are the home of important statewide assets,” said Smith. Target Center, the Metrodome and Minneapolis Convention Center were all financed or paid for in toto or in part by city coffers. “The city has played a lead role,” she said.

But this time ’round, the “local partner” idea embraced by Gov. Tim Pawlenty that triggered a Hennepin County sales tax for the new Twins ballpark is a non-starter.

Any new Vikings stadium is “a statewide asset,” Smith reiterated.

Bagley told MinnPost the meeting went well and that the team is working on exactly how to push the stadium discussion along as the Legislature convenes. There’s also that matter of how to pay for it.

Smith said she and the Vikings will continue to “stay in touch … We all know these things can take a long time.”

But the Vikings lease at the Dome expires after the 2011 season. That’s a moment in time that Bagley and Wilf pointed out to the city leaders … and will point out to anyone willing to listen.

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