There’s likely to be news this week on plans for a new Vikings stadium, as Gov. Mark Dayton vows to get serious about it during private meetings with team officials and legislative leaders.
Dayton says he’s trying to get enough information to decide whether to call a special session of the Legislature if it will pony up the $300 million state contribution to the $1.1 billion stadium proposal for the abandoned army ammunition plant site in Arden Hills.
Ramsey County is well on the way to approving a $350 million contribution paid for by an additional sales tax only in the county, and the Vikings say they’ll contribute more than $400 million.
While Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is looking to get the public subsidies to build the stadium and related development on the wide-open Arden Hills site (there was even a map showing a potential convention center floating around at one point), there’s still an undercurrent of support for putting a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, to be near the Twins and Timberwolves/Lynx.
Time is of the essence, stadium proponents say. The Vikings lease at the Metrodome ends after this season. While the team says it won’t sign a new long-term lease there, they likely would need to play there a few more seasons, even if a stadium deal is approved, because of the lengthy construction period.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, there are two competing stadium proposals afoot, although public financing there remains a huge hurdle, according to a story last week in ESPN.
We’re starting to hear more and more about the threat of the Vikings leaving town to go to the promised LA stadium, often from local sports reporters and organizations with a stake in keeping the team here. National stories out of Los Angeles usually include the Vikings as one of four NFL teams in the mix — all of which are having trouble getting public financing as they try to build stadiums in their own home cities. They can all use the LA move as a threat, but all four can’t move there.
And as the Vikings continue to founder on the field, a quarterback controversy and the concerns about a proposed new stadium might be the only talking points left to ponder for the rest of the season. Sunday night’s loss to Chicago was so one-sided that the national television crew spent many, many minutes on the air pushing the case for a new stadium.