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Sunday, October 26, 2008 4:21:38 PM(UTC)
Maybe those purple seats in the LA stadium plans had some merit, eh.
Seriously.. sign of the economic times.. it will be interesting to see how much impact this downturn has overall on franchises. http://www.gazetteonline...TS/710259918/1008/sports
IOWA CITY Minnesota and its most popular sports franchise are heading for a showdown in which fans could lose either their money or their team.
The Vikings' lease with the Metrodome expires in 2011, meaning the 48-year-old NFL franchise could move after that season. For years, the Vikings have pushed for a new stadium at various Twin Cities sites. That still seems to be the course for Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf, who talked about the stadium issue with The Gazette in August.
"We are working very hard right now toward formulating a plan that would involve the existing site of the Metrodome," Wilf said. "The Metrodome is the center of activity of more than 25 years, and we're trying to find ways to build a facility with the help of the legislature that we all can be proud of."
Minnesota lawmakers have offered to renovate the Metrodome in the past, but Vikings' officials have said that won't be sufficient. The Metrodome generates the NFL's lowest revenue, and the Vikings are a revenue-sharing drain on the NFL.
Since 2000, nearly $900 million was spent on three stadiums or arenas in the Twin Cities.
The Excel Energy Center in St. Paul was completed in 2000 for about $180 million, with $130 million from public sources. The Twins' stadium, which opens in 2010, costs $412 million with $260 million from the public. The Gophers' stadium has a $288.5 million price tag with the public covering $137.2 million.
If the Vikings secure public financing during the 2009 Legislative session, it's likely they will play for at least one season at the 50,000-seat Gophers' stadium.
Cost estimates range from $750 million for an outdoor stadium (preferred by Wilf) to about $1 billion for a stadium with a retractable roof. Many prefer some type of roof so the state can lure Super Bowls and Final Fours, as it has in the past.
The cost of waiting could be dire. The situation resembles the one that developed in Cleveland in the early 1990s when public money was used for a basketball arena for the Cavaliers, a baseball stadium for the Indians and the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
The Browns were left with an aging tinderbox and left for Baltimore, sparking a huge public outcry and an eventual expansion team three years later. The NFL has faced similar situations in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Oakland, Houston and St. Louis.
"After so many years of being stalled, the Twins and Gophers got their stadium and ballpark done and we were very happy for them. We were advocating that," Wilf said. "We were told to wait our turn. Maybe it was because we were new owners, but certainly we are waiting our turn.
"I think it's very important, not only for Minnesotans but to fans and the people outside of Minnesota that they realize that ... the Minnesota Vikings are a very important part of the culture and the soul of Minnesotans and fans throughout the U.S. and including fans here in Iowa."
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