Vikings catch a break on road costs

The estimated cost for road improvements surrounding a new Vikings stadium was reduced by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. After a week of opponents shooting holes in the Ramsey County stadium proposal, it was the first bit of good news for stadium supporters.

Call it an incremental victory for the Vikings.

On Wednesday with the doomsday clock ticking down to the end of the 2011 session, the Minnesota Department of Transportation took $44 million off the infrastructure improvement estimates that would be required near a new Vikings stadium in Ramsey County.

The cost estimates that Gov. Mark Dayton and most legislative leaders were hearing related to the cost of making the improvements needed to handle stadium traffic at the vacant Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant – an acronym (TCAAP) you will likely get used to seeing in the coming days, if not months – were $175 million. On Wednesday, MnDOT said the actual cost will likely be closer to $131 million – $44 million less than a figure being bantered about by stadium opponents.

In a statement, the Vikings thanked MnDOT for its release of cost analysis figures that can help allay the fears of some legislators.

In the statement, the Vikings said, "We want to thank Governor (Mark) Dayton, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Ramsey County for working together to quickly explore in further detail the off-site transportation needs and costs for a new stadium at the TCAAP site in Arden Hills. It is important for all parties to be in agreement on the numbers so we can now focus our energy on moving this project forward. We appreciate the fact that these discussions have lowered the overall project costs, and we look forward to working with the governor and legislative leaders on resolving the stadium issue in Minnesota."

Whether the reduced price tag will have its intended impact to get more legislative support is unclear, but it can't hurt.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • The lockout is likely on for the Memorial Day Weekend and beyond. Court-mandated mediation ended Tuesday and close-door talks in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan aren't scheduled until June 7. That will be four days after an appeals court hearing in St. Louis is expected to rule on the long-term legality of a lockout. Spring is turning to summer and still no hint of a resolution is on the horizon.

  • You have to pity the Minnesota Timberwolves. Once again they failed to pick up the top pick in the NBA draft lottery. T-Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn has become a national media focus (for perhaps the first time) due to comments made following the draft, one in which the Timberwolves again had the most chances to get the top pick but still haven't received it.

    Kahn joked that he knew when he saw the dangerously ill 14-year old son of Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert on stage that the Wolves "were toast" in terms of getting the first overall pick. The first lottery was in 1985. The New York Knicks had just one ball in the hopper yet mysteriously in a closed room in New Jersey, their ball "miraculously" got pulled. Expansion Orlando was a site the NBA coveted. "Miraculously" the Magic pulled the first ball and got Shaquille O'Neal. Despite having little chance to land him, Cleveland got hometown hero LeBron James thanks to a miraculous ball. Kahn may find his next paycheck significantly lighter than expected thanks to Commissioner David Stern. Why? Because he said what many believe to be the truth.

    The popularity of the NFL is based on an even playing field thanks to a salary cap that allows teams to go from worst-to-first in one year. Draft picks are the life-blood of the NFL, but teams don't intentionally lose games to get higher picks. They did in the NBA, which is why they had to employ a lottery system to prevent teams tanking late in the season – even though they still do.

    Kahn may be out 100 grand or so for his open-mike night performance at the Chuckle Hut.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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