Early last week, the Minnesota Vikings announced their partnership with Minnesota's Ramsey County to construct their new stadium. The stadium would be funded up to 40 percent by the Vikings, 35 percent by the state and the rest would be left to Ramsey County.
Once the Vikings announced this partnership, Minnesota's fans rejoiced at the belief that the Vikings had their stadium. The Minneapolis Star Tribune later reported, however, that this notion was hardly the case.
Governor Mark Dayton, who has always been in favor of keeping the Vikings in Minnesota, came out on Friday, May 13th, saying that he could not sign the bill as it presently stood.
According to the current plan, the Vikings hold most of the financial control and leaves the responsibility of road improvements to the state, a project that reportedly will cost roughly an extra $173 million dollars.
Now I can't really blame Gov. Dayton for not agreeing with these stipulations, but as a fan of the team, I can't stress enough the importance of getting this deal done sooner rather than later. The legislative session ends in one week and the Vikings don't have much to show for it.
Vikings fans need to realize that the state has other important issues that also must be dealt with at the capital, while legislators need to realize that losing the Vikings would be far more devastating to the state than having to spend extra time to finish the state's budget.
For these reasons, all Minnesotans need to be patient with each other as we enter this most crucial week.
The Arden Hills site seems like it will become the Vikings new home. Many people, including the city of Minneapolis and many legislators, I'm sure, are opposed to this site because it is not a downtown setting.
I am not one of those people.
The Arden Hills site offers the best case scenarios for all parties involved.
The Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings obviously benefit the most from this new plan. They will have their new home, potentially a new team head quarters and all of the amenities that any NFL franchise could ask for.
The 260-acre site will offer space for owner Zygi Wilf to develop whatever he's sees fit for the Midwest's newest and greatest center for NFL football. Rumored amenities include hotels, shopping centers, restaurants, entertainment centers, a Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame (much like that of Lambeau Field in Green Bay) and, most importantly, up to 21,000 parking spaces that could reportedly generate up to $7 million per game.
No matter how much the Vikings have to contribute to this plan, this site is the best option for Zygi Wilf.
Because of all of those same amenities I just listed, Vikings fans will have a stadium that they can be proud of. Obviously the most important aspect for all of the parties involved, but none as much as the fans.
Can you imagine how devastating for Minnesotans to lose their proud franchise? That is a reality I hope we Vikings fans never have to face.
Luckily, with this plan, the Vikings will remain in Minnesota essentially forever. With the addition of the 21,000 on-site parking spaces, tailgating can return to its true home: the Twin Cities. Whether you choose to believe it or not, Minnesotans invented true tailgating, and they have not been able to see this great spectacle since the Metrodome opened 30 years ago. The glory days of the Old Met Stadium can now be relived in Arden Hills.
The State of Minnesota
The state of Minnesota insists that keeping the Vikings in a downtown setting is financially ideal. The Arden Hills site is only 10 minutes north of St. Paul and roughly the same distance from Minneapolis. Arden Hills would offer a much similar situation as the New England Patriots have in their Foxborough, MA home, just 10 minutes outside Boston. A downtown location would offer little difference financially to the state. The most important thing is simply holding on to the franchise.
The Vikings released a statement Saturday, listing some quick facts about the new stadium plan.
The most important, in my eyes, for the state would be the creation of jobs for Minnesotans.
Mortenson Construction estimates that the stadium would support the creation of 13,000 jobs, including 7,500 construction jobs over the course of the three-year plan. They also estimated that the job would create over 4.2 million work hours including 900,000 in the first 12 months.
They also estimated that 95 percent of the materials and labor costs will go to tradespeople in Minnesota.
The article goes on to list many more economic benefits for the state, but these facts should be enough to sway the legislature in favor of supporting the bill.
Ramsey County and the city of Arden Hills will be able to boast of housing this proud franchise and its new state-of-the-art facility. The high levels of traffic and added tourism will be great for local business owners. The city of Arden Hills should see a dramatic spike in revenue once the stadium opens for business. This deal will no doubt pay off for the local community.
Overall, the Arden Hills site offers all of the opportunities desired by the Vikings, the fans and the state of Minnesota. Hopefully the Vikings partnership with Ramsey County will help to move the plan forward in the legislative process.
Ultimately this deal just needs to get done. The window is closing faster with each and every day.