There’s one more hurdle left to clear for the Minnesota Vikings as they attempt to secure a new stadium in the Twin Cities.
Under the terms of the law Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed off on Monday, May 14, Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis would basically split the cost of a new stadium that is scheduled to be built at the Metrodome site, the Vikings’ home since 1982. According to The Associated Press, the stadium would cost $975 million to build, of which the city and state would contribute $498 million while the Vikings would pony up $477 million. The new stadium would be built in time for the 2016 season.
However, the deal must still be approved by the Minneapolis City Council when it meets Friday, May 25. The City Council voted to support the stadium plan in April, but by a mere 7-6 vote.
The possibility of someone switching his or her vote from yes to no may have increased once the details of the governor’s proposed bill were revealed. The Associated Press reported the Vikings would be able to keep “any financial information” about the team from the public. Such a provision would be notable even in Minnesota, which The Associated Press reports allows state-funded businesses to keep from the public items such as business plans, tax returns, additional financial data, and trade secrets.
The law signed by Dalton has already been criticized by some Minnesota politicians.
“We now have the largest public commitment in the state’s history in an agreement with the Vikings, and we have an unprecedented lack of disclosure,” Rep. Mary Liz Holberg told The Associated Press. “I just think that sunshine in government is good, and in exchange for nearly half a billion dollars in public commitment, there should be some sunshine on the other side of the ledger.”
Proposed stadium deals for the Vikings have fallen apart at the finish line before. Last May, the Vikings and Ramsey County agreed to build a new stadium at Arden Hills, which is where ammunition was stored during World War II, but Ramsey County could not secure the necessary public funding on a facility that would have cost more than $1 billion by completion. Ramsey County and Minnesota would have combined to contribute about $700 million while the Vikings would have contributed about $425 million.
Without a new stadium, the Vikings — who have been in Minnesota since they were founded as an expansion team in 1960 — could move to Los Angeles, which has been without an NFL team since 1995.
The Vikings’ search for a Metrodome replacement has spanned parts of three decades and two ownership groups. Former owner Red McCombs, who held the team from 1998 through 2005, spent most of his time with the team trying to land a new stadium before selling the team to current owner Zygi Wilf, a New York-based businessman.
Wilf signed Brett Favre — the longtime quarterback of the Vikings’ main rivals, the “Green Bay Packers — in 2009 in hopes of making a Super Bowl run that would jumpstart new stadium negotiations, but Favre’s ill-timed interception in the waning seconds of the NFC Championship Game cost the Vikings a chance at their first Super Bowl appearance since 1976.
The Vikings went just 6-10 in 2010, when Favre suffered a spate of injuries and the Vikings were forced to move their final two home games to Detroit and to the University of Minnesota, respectively, after the Metrodome’s roof collapsed during a blizzard. Last year was even rougher for the Vikings, who stumbled to a 3-13 record — the third-worst mark in the NFL.