With the Minnesota Vikings‘ lease at the Metrodome expiring at the end of the 2011 season, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf spent the last two summers urgently trying to build a team that could reach the Super Bowl — most notably by first luring Brett Favre out of another short-lived retirement in 2009 and then convincing him to come back for another season in 2010.
But the Vikings missed the Super Bowl by mere yards following the 2009 season, when Favre threw an untimely interception with the Vikings in position to kick the tie-breaking, game-winning field goal in the final minute of regulation against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game. And last year was a disaster from start to finish: Favre suffered multiple injuries and missed a start for the first time since 1992, head coach Brad Childress was fired after 10 games and the Vikings had to play the final two home games of their 6-10 season in Detroit and at the University of Minnesota, respectively, thanks to a collapsed roof at the Metrodome.
Now, with the Vikings embarking upon a rebuilding plan — there is a quarterback with Super Bowl experience atop the depth chart, but Donovan McNabb is just a place-holder for 2011 first-round pick Christian Ponder — Wilf’s best hope for a new stadium is to tap into the good feelings and civic pride engendered by the Vikings’ 51 years in Minnesota.
Wilf told reporters at the Vikings’ training camp in Mankato yesterday, Wednesday, August 10, that Vikings fans don’t have to worry about the likelihood of a $1.5 billion NFL stadium being built in Los Angeles, which hasn’t had an NFL team since 1994, because there was progress being made on a deal to build the Vikings a stadium in nearby Ramsey County.
“We’ve got momentum here in Arden Hills,” Wilf told reporters, referring to the team’s plans to build a nearly $1 billion stadium at a former munitions site located in the Minneapolis suburb.
Wilf spoke to reporters after hosting 18 officials from Ramsey County at the Vikings’ complex. He also said he met last week with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who has indicated he’d be willing to call a special session this fall to vote on the Vikings’ proposed plan. A special legislative session discussing the plan was unsuccessful last month.
Wilf also sounded optimistic last week in discussing the possible special session with reporters. “We’re very confident that we will have something worked out in the near future and hopefully that it could be addressed in a special session,” Wilf said. “But we’re very confident in our location and for the future of the franchise in a new stadium up in Arden Hills.”
The funding for the plan is complex, with the Vikings ponying up $407 million and Ramsey County contributing $350 million via a half-cent increase in sales tax. The state of Minnesota would be responsible for the final $300 million.
The Metrodome, which opened for football in 1982, is the ninth-oldest stadium in the NFL. The Vikings have long been mentioned as a possible candidate for relocation to Los Angeles, where the City Council unanimously voted Tuesday, August 9 to approve a “non-binding” agreement to build a stadium downtown next to Staples Center. The stadium could be completed in time for the 2016 season.