By Jon Krawczynski
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings have spent more than a decade trying to get public money to help them build a new stadium to replace the drab and outdated Metrodome.
After a meeting this week with two prominent state senators, owner Zygi Wilf said the team was getting closer and closer to making that happen.
Zygi and his brother Mark Wilf met with Sens. Julie Rosen and Dave Senjem to discuss the team’s work on presenting a package to the Legislature for a vote.
“They’re very encouraged on the progress we’re making,” Zygi Wilf said. “And we feel that a deal is going to be in the works shortly.”
Rosen said they talked about moving the stadium issue forward in the next legislative session.
“People do want a resolution on this; it’s either up or down. A lot of people are working on getting this thing done,” she said.
Rosen, R-Fairmont, has been the lead Senate sponsor of stadium legislation. Senjem last week was elected Senate majority leader after a leadership shuffle among Senate Republicans, and his elevation to that post has been seen as a positive for stadium prospects since he’s been more open to partial public money than have other prominent GOP lawmakers.
Stadium backers in the Legislature hope to release a proposal in bill form, identifying both a specific site and a way to cover the state’s share, in advance of the legislative session that begins Jan. 24.
The team’s lease at the Metrodome expires Feb. 1, essentially turning the Vikings into a free agent without a home. The Wilf family has said all along that they were committed to getting a deal done to keep the team in Minnesota long-term.
“We want to make sure, as many as the people we’ve met on the Legislature, the governor, and the fans, to establish a home that will ensure this franchise for generations to come,” Zygi Wilf said. “A home that we can be proud of, a home we can enjoy with our families and also to keep on the traditions of Minnesota Vikings football.”
The Vikings are proposing a $1.1 billion stadium in the St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills. But some state leaders have urged the team to also consider sites in downtown Minneapolis.
Zygi Wilf said the team remained committed to getting a deal done with Ramsey County and Arden Hills, but is keeping all of its options open as they try to secure public funding to help pay for it. The only sure thing, he said, is that all the sites are in Minnesota.
For now, the team is working to make sure it has a proposal to present before the next session begins.
“Our goal is to be making sure that we have a viable plan,” Zygi Wilf said, “and we’re working as we speak on a deal.”
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