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Vikings Official Rips Minnesota Governor Over Stadium Situation

Feb 12, 2009 – 12:00 PM
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Bruce Ciskie

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The Minnesota Vikings have been trying for some time to get a new stadium built. While most who have been to the Metrodome would agree that it's not exactly a pristine venue, it doesn't seem that anyone can figure out how to pay for a new stadium.

At this time, the Vikings would like some $700 million from the state of Minnesota to help fund a project that is nearing a $1 billion pricetag. The state has scoffed, citing a rather ominous budget deficit. The Vikings don't care.

Instead of caring, the Vikings seem to be trying to amp up the pressure.
Lester Bagley, the team's vice president of public affairs and stadium development, provided biting remarks Wednesday about the lack of engagement from Gov. Tim Pawlenty and intimated the clock could be ticking on the Vikings' time in Minnesota if something doesn't happen in the current legislative session.

"With all due respect, he's been governor for six years, and he hasn't done anything," Bagley said of Pawlenty. "He hasn't lifted a finger to engage in a problem-solving discussion to help us on our issue. And that's the frustration that the NFL feels, that our ownership feels and a lot of our allies [feel], whether they be elected officials or not. There's a lot of frustration, and there's been no meaningful engagement by the executive branch."
I've lived in Minnesota since 1998. As long as I can remember, they have been trying to angle for government help so they can get a new stadium. I can't blame them, seeing that the Metrodome is a pile, and downtown Minneapolis would be much less unsightly if they just got rid of the thing.

However, I do find some irony in the fact that the Los Angeles-area football stadium project is wholly paid for by private funds.

At no point have previous owner Red McCombs or current owner Zygi Wilf even attempted (publicly, at least) to put together a stadium project that would be funded with even a majority of private funds.

Taking it one step farther, the Minnesota Twins contributed around $152 million to pay for Target Field (opening in 2010), which is estimated to cost $412 million. At that same percentage, the Vikings would be expected to plunk down over $350 million to help pay for their project, and they haven't even come close to offering that much.

Meanwhile, the Vikings' brass continues to drop veiled threats about relocation, always saying that they don't want to move the team. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Bagley is unafraid to point out that the Vikings "have 30 games left at the Metrodome". Their lease expires in 2011, and it's clear they have no intention of occupying the facility one day past then.
Filed under: Sports