Cost, location questions surround Vikings’ stadium
By Brian Johnson
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — As the Vikings prepare for another stadium blitz at the state Capitol, uncertainties about the plan make it difficult to nail down how much it would cost to build a new football venue for the team.
Much of the cost, of course, depends on whether the stadium will be covered or open-air. The team has reported it wants a roofless stadium, but some lawmakers prefer a domed structure to make it suitable for year-round use.
Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said the cost also depends on where the stadium will be built, interest rates and other factors.
For now at least, “it is safe to put the number for an open-air stadium at $700 million-plus, and a roof is an additional $200 million,” Anderson said.
Lack of a specific site for the project is one detail that makes estimating difficult.
In the past, the Vikings have said they want to build at the current Metrodome site in Minneapolis. They’ve also looked at Anoka County, and the Vikings have left open the possibility of other locations.
Construction material costs also may be a factor, and a report released Thursday by the Associated General Contractors of America suggests costs aren’t getting any lower.
The Vikings have cited the rising cost of construction as a reason to build now rather than later. According to a Vikings website, the project cost has doubled since 2001 and increases every year.
Last spring, some Minnesota lawmakers pushed for an ill-fated plan that would use taxes on hotels, rental cars, NFL memorabilia and other sources to help pay for a $791 million covered stadium.
At the time, Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs Lester Bagley told the Star Tribune the team would pay for a third of the cost of a roofless stadium, and Bagley stood by that position last week in an interview with The Associated Press.
Anderson said the Vikings’ position of paying for one-third of the cost for an open-air stadium but not contributing to the cost of a roof is nothing new.
“We have publicly taken that stance for several years,” Anderson said. “What it comes down to (is that) the team understands the value of having a roof and making the stadium a multipurpose, year-round state asset. But obviously, the roof comes at a significant cost, and we feel the state needs to be part of the discussion on that.”
Skeptics say the “no-roof-is-necessary” position is a clever negotiating ploy.
Phil Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, said the team’s position sets up a scenario where it can say, “The Legislature wants the roof. Therefore, the state has to pay for the roof.”
Roof or no roof, Krinkie said, it will be difficult for state lawmakers who have vowed not to raise taxes to justify public subsidies for a stadium, especially when there’s still a $6.2 billion budget deficit to deal with.
“If legislators are saying they are not going to raise taxes to balance the budget … provide more services for health care, education, public safety, transportation, why in the world would they be willing to raise taxes to build a stadium?” Krinkie said.
A stadium bill may be introduced in February. The bill would include details about the location, cost and revenue sources, according to media reports.