Minnesota Vikings Agree to $975 Million NFL Stadium Project

The Minnesota Vikings and state and local government officials announced a legislative proposal to build a $975 million stadium for the National Football League team with taxpayers contributing about $736.7 million to construct and run the facility.

The club would pay about $754.1 million for its share of construction and operations at the publicly owned, fixed-roof building, which would replace the Metrodome in Minneapolis at the same site. Governor Mark Dayton urged the state legislature and Minneapolis City Council to approve the plan.

“Now the real work begins,” Dayton said in a news conference announcing the deal.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson both support the plan, along with state Senator Julie Rosen and state Representative Morrie Lanning, both Republicans. Rybak said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the deal can be approved.

The Vikings agreed to pay $427 million for the construction costs and about $13 million a year for operating and capital expenses. Zygmunt Wilf, the team’s owner, said he was pleased with the plan and the support of city and state leaders.

The Vikings have sought a replacement for the Metrodome since Wilf bought the franchise from Red McCombs for $600 million in 2005.

“We believe this proposal offers significant benefits for the city, the state, our fans and the team, and we look forward to working with the City of Minneapolis and the state legislature to pass a stadium bill this year,” Wilf said in the release from the team.

New Jobs

Dayton said the project would create as many as 8,000 construction jobs and an additional 5,000 positions among suppliers during its three years of building and keep the Vikings in Minnesota for the next 30 years, without using money from the state’s general fund.

The state would pay $398 million for construction costs using gambling money, and provide property- and sales-tax exemptions for stadium building materials, according to a news release from the Vikings. The city would redirect $150 million from existing convention-center and tourism taxes to build the stadium and $188.7 million, or about $7.5 million a year, to run it.

The Metrodome’s inflatable roof -- 10 acres of Teflon-coated Fiberglas -- collapsed in 2010 under the weight of 17 inches of snow, and the Vikings hosted games at Detroit and outdoors in 23-degree Fahrenheit (minus-4 Celsius) temperatures at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank stadium.

Suburban Alternative

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Dayton after the roof collapse and said there was “recognition that we need to find a long-term solution for the Vikings here and get a stadium built.” The Vikings also considered alternative sites, including one in suburban Arden Hills.

The Republicans, who control the Minnesota legislature, published a platform two years ago that opposes using tax money for “programs, such as public broadcasting, sports stadiums, and the arts.” It said such projects should be paid for by the users and voluntary donors.

Legislative opposition to the stadium has mounted in recent months from Tea Party Republicans and Democrats unhappy with budget cuts to education and other services. Lanning, the bill’s chief sponsor, said approval will “not happen without bipartisan support.”

“Keeping the Vikings in Minnesota is in the best interests of the state,” Rosen said in the release. “This will be done without using any General Fund dollars that could go to our schools or nursing homes.”

Keep Team

Dayton, a Democrat, has led the state’s efforts on behalf of the new stadium, saying in his State of the State speech last month that there is an “urgency” to create thousands of construction jobs and keep the team.

The new stadium will be owned and operated by an authority comprised of three members appointed by the governor and two appointed by the city. The so-called Downtown East site includes the Metrodome’s current land and the addition of a game-day plaza on the stadium’s west side.

“Let’s put thousands of Minnesotans to work building our ‘People’s Stadium,” Dayton said in the release.

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