Vikings stadium bill gaining momentum

Vikings stadium bill gaining momentum

The Vikings have been working on a stadium solution for more than decade, but with three weeks left in the 2010 session, there is momentum that a finance package will at least be introduced in the next week.

The buzz is continuing to grow on the Vikings stadium front. With the racino option shot down like a clay pigeon, new and different bills are being proposed. One plan in the making would have Minnesota cities competing for the right to be the new home of the Vikings.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen (IR-Fairmont) said the proposed legislation would include two options. The first would be rebuilding a new stadium on the current Metrodome site using taxes currently being raised for the Minneapolis Convention Center. The second option would put cities in competition for a new stadium site, setting up a series of local taxes to help pay for the new stadium.

The bill's other co-sponsor, Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) has been making more of the headlines concerning a proposed Vikings bill during the current Legislative, but political pundits are saying that Rosen could be the key player working between the State Legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has recently softened his stance concerning the stadium issue.

Perhaps it has been the end result of Target Field and the nostalgia that has been pulled out of a half-century of Major League Baseball being in Minnesota that has this sudden change of heart appearing at the houses of the Legislature. It won't be an easy road, but the only thing that got the state working on a Twins stadium was when the ownership allowed a contraction vote to eliminate the team from existence. The NFL has no such problems, but the thought of 50 years of the Vikings being a Minnesota institution going away may finally be close enough to reality that it has stirred the Legislature from its long slumber.

If a stadium finance bill is passed this session, it could include a longer lease and a fixed roof for the stadium, instead of a retractable roof. The fixed-roof option is less expensive, but there is talk of some walls being retractable to make the skyline visible from portions of the stadium.

The bill may be a case of "too much, too soon" for this year's session, but it looks more optimistic that the subject of building a new Vikings stadium is coming closer to reality. It might be ambitious to say that a new stadium will get done in this session, but there may be reason to think that the sky may not be falling after all.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • With the draft over, the movement on veterans still on the open market is picking up. While Brian Westbrook mulls over an offer from the Rams, former Viking Darren Sharper is drawing interest. The Saints are rumored to have made an offer to bring back Sharper, who had a huge year with New Orleans – intercepting nine passes and being the playmaker that will put him into Hall of Fame consideration. Both Jacksonville and Dallas are said to be interested in working out Sharper, who is coming off knee surgery. Jacksonville has a visit scheduled, but no confirmation on a scheduled Dallas visit has come from the Cowboys.

  • Center Kevin Mawae, who became a free agent in March, has yet to sign or get a significant offer from an NFL owner. Mawae is 39 years old, but he said in a radio interview that he believes his continued unemployment is the result of him being the past president of the players association.

  • Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL Network Wednesday that, given the enormous ratings and increased fan interest in a prime-time draft that the three-day draft is likely here to stay.

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