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November 15, 2006

We are cursed to have to worry about this


This is LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. I just saw it on a recent trip to Nashville. It is one of the most beautiful stadiums in the NFL. It was built in 1999 and financed with $149.5 million from hotel/motel taxes and surplus funds with the state providing $70 million. In addition, $55 million in bonds was needed and will be repaid through sales taxes, $12 million was needed for infrastructure and $2 million in the form of land donations. This beautiful stadium was built for the grand total of $290 million.

If you haven't heard, the Vikings are now claiming their stadium will cost $800 million. Holy cow. I don't even know how to begin to comprehend that. $800 million ... Wow. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Because as I said before, it will not get done this year. I just can't see it. So, what will the cost be next year? $900 million? $1 billion?

Let's look on the bright side. This new estimate is based on new figures of what it would cost to build a stadium in Anoka County. A stadium in Anoka County has now got to be seen as a huge long shot, almost as impossible as the Vikings winning the Super Bowl. That is because of what it would cost to build this stadium in Anoka County. According to the Strib:

And while that figure included a retractable roof that Anoka County projected to cost $115 million, Wilf said construction and operation of the roof would cost at least $200 million. Erhart's $800 million estimate, which Anoka County is trying to fine-tune before it submits stadium costs to the Vikings, includes a retractable roof.

The earlier estimate also did not include the cost of improving Interstate Hwy. 35W or other roads leading to a stadium in Blaine. Anoka County projected those infrastructure costs at $115 million -- work that Anoka County hoped could be paid for in state or federal funding.

So, can we correctly assume that without a retractable roof, and without those infrastructure costs, a stadium somewhere else would cost a more (cough, cough) reasonable $485 million? $800 - $200 -$115 = $485. For example, what if the stadium was built in Minneapolis? Perhaps even on the same land as the Metrodome? The infrastructure is certainly there already. And, just like Zygi wants, how about without a roof? Would it cost as little as $485 million then? Of course, the Vikings probably wouldn't be able to start construction until at least 2009 (when TCF stadium opens), so the costs would probably go up, but still ... $800 million?

The Vikings have already agreed to pay at least $280 million. Is it out of the question to expect them to pay, say, $300 million? I think not. Then consider this quote from the Pioneer Press:

An NFL program that has helped the development of stadiums around the league is the G-3 loan. Eight teams have received more than $600 million to help offset the initial financial burdens. The New York Jets and New York Giants are waiting to hear if their request for $300 million from the G-3 funding program will be approved.

What if the Vikings could get the same deal? Combined with Zygi's $300 million, would $600 million be enough to pay for a roofless stadium in downtown Minneapolis? I would think so. And Zygi wouldn't have to go to the state or the county to get funding. Someone tell me: why wouldn't this work? (I'll answer my own question ... the NFL probably wouldn't give the Vikings a $300 million G3 loan. The Giants and the Jets, two teams, will probably have a hard time getting that kind of cha-ching)

Because I hate to break it to you, and I've said this before, but I just don't think the Vikings will get anywhere this legislative session. I hope I'm wrong, but I just can't see it. Again, someone please tell me if I'm wrong. Quite frankly Minneapolis is the only location that makes sense for the new stadium and with the construction of the new Twins stadium there just isn't anything left for the Vikings. Anoka County can't handle the added expense of a new $800 million stadium, and as we've already seen with the Twins, the state is loathe to give up its own money for this kind of effort.

We are cursed to have to keep thinking about this. Absolutely cursed. Of course, I'll keep looking for any kind of news I can find concerning this issue, but I'm not expecting any of the news to be good for quite a while.

Unfortunately, the question must be asked: Does a new Twins stadium mean we'll be waving goodbye to the Vikings?

Posted by snackeru at November 15, 2006 8:34 PM


Not to beat a dead horse, but why the heck as we all maybe knew, with the Vikings likely ending up in Mpls, why not St. Paul for the Twins?

Posted by: Jiminstpaul at November 15, 2006 9:29 PM

"Unfortunately, the question must be asked: Does a new Twins stadium mean we'll be waving goodbye to the Vikings?"

As you know, Shane, this has always been my great fear, and precisely why I wanted the Vikes stadium looked at first. Like it or not, the NFL is the biggest and most popular league in the country, and the Vikings crush the Twins when it comes to local and regional interest. Minnesota without the Vikings is far, far worse than Minnesota without the Twins. Lets hope that Zygi is a man of his word who will keep the team in Minnesota and find some sort of stadium solution.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at November 16, 2006 9:08 AM

I had the luxury of attending a Bon Jovi-Nickelback-Charlz Newman concert at Heinz Field this summer and I have to say that it is an absolutely gorgeous field. Before I went to Heinz Field I was against an outdoor football stadium in Minneesota.....I am now against an indoor stadium. It was a breath taking experience to sit in the stands and see the Allegheny River and Pittsburgh skyline. The best part is that the cost to build the stadium was a whopping $230 million in 2001. I have attached a picture to my name for your viewing pleasure.


Posted by: MOJO at November 16, 2006 10:00 AM

Personally, I'm glad the Twins' situation was dealt with first because I'd have missed them a lot more than the Vikings. Maybe I'm in the minority on that, but I don't really care.

The Metrodome was built for the Vikings and the Twins were an afterthought, so I'm glad we won't see a reprisal of that happening again.

I have to figure at least a small majority of the politicians are smart enough to recognize the Vikings' greater regional interest and that, combined with the complete lack of a voter backlash over the Twins ballpark, leaves me cautiously optimistic that Curt's fears are a little overblown.

Posted by: Mark at November 16, 2006 3:54 PM

Think you may be misinterpreting the $600 million dollar figure for the G-3 loan - I read it as saying that the combined group of 8 teams had received 600 mill, not each team.

Posted by: chapman at November 16, 2006 4:06 PM

I thought I read somewhere that Zygi was including the G3 loan amount in his contribution amount. Does anyone else remember this?

Posted by: Aaron in Minneapolis at November 17, 2006 7:49 AM

You might be right, Aaron. If that is the case, we are in even more trouble than I thought.

Posted by: Shane at November 17, 2006 7:52 AM

I too would miss the Twins more then the Vikings. That being said the Vikings aren't going anywhere. If you're the NFL you don't move out of a city that gets a 40 rating every week and sells out every game for a decade while there's still teams in Oakland, New Olreans and Arizona.

Posted by: David Howe at November 18, 2006 1:41 AM

Zygi's 280 million dollar amount does include the NFL loan. Where is Minneapolis going to come up with that kind of money?

Posted by: mike at November 21, 2006 11:45 AM

Minneapolis is not going to come up with that kind of money. The reason that the Twins ballpark sales tax is being levied by Hennepin County and not Minneapolis is because if Minneapolis did it, it would have to be something like 1 percent rather than 0.15 percent.

If a new Vikings stadium does end up in Minneapolis, the public contribution is either going to come from Hennepin County again, from some kind of metro-wide deal or from the state. I wouldn't want to guess which of those has the best chance of actually getting through the Legislature...

Posted by: Mark at November 21, 2006 4:28 PM

Why doesn't Zygi just build his own OPEN air stadium with his OWN money? He's already pledged $280 million towards the current pipedream. Why not just add another $50 million or so and build the whole dam thing himself--Open Air!!!

Who cares what the naysayers say! Green Bay can do it. Chicago can do it. We're tough enough to handle sitting in the cold too!

Posted by: Jon Bon Jovi at January 8, 2008 11:56 AM

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