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Vikings, Ramsey County Move Forward With New Stadium Plans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 20, 2011 – 3:42 pm

Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf meets with Governor Dayton and legislative leaders

On Tuesday, the Ramsey County Board passed its third positive vote on the potential new publicly-owned stadium project in Arden Hills, this time approving a “Request for Qualifications for Architectural and Engineering Services.”  Passing 4-3, the vote means the County can move forward with soliciting interested architects who may be approved to design the stadium.

“Today’s action by the Ramsey County Board is further evidence of our strong partnership with the County and is another step in moving this process forward in Arden Hills,” said Vikings Vice President of Stadium Development Lester Bagley. “The sooner we take action, the better chance we have of opening the stadium in 2015. We can also prevent millions of dollars in cost delays and put thousands of people back to work as soon as possible.”

The Tuesday vote came the morning after Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf and Vikings officials met with Governor Mark Dayton and several legislators. Gathering at the Governor’s residence on Monday night, the Vikings, Governor Dayton and legislators discussed the latest on the stadium effort, the urgency to resolve the issue and the need to bring forward a legislative package for consideration in January.

The Vikings and Ramsey County also released two new conceptual images today depicting the various uses that could be developed around the proposed new stadium in Arden Hills.


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Vikings, Ramsey County Release New Arden Hills Stadium Development Images

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 20, 2011 – 11:22 am

The Vikings and Ramsey County released two conceptual images illustrating the various uses that could be developed around the proposed new stadium in Arden Hills. Both the summer and winter scenes represent the potential development as a result of remediating the former Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant (TCAAP) site.

The summer scene portrays various outdoor activities, including running and biking trails that could extend along the eastern edge of the site connecting to the Wildlife Corridor. Multi-use practice fields could be available for youth, high school and amateur sports, including football, lacrosse and soccer. The “main street” concept beyond the football fields could include a mixed-use corridor of retail, residential, commercial office and park space surrounding a community pond.

The winter scene provides a closer view of the “main street” concept, which depicts a winter destination of cross-country skiing, ice-skating on the community pond, hiking and outdoor fun around the fire pits. The “Lake House” adjacent to the pond could provide indoor and outdoor space for community events, adjacent to the main street restaurant and retail corridor.


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Vikings Launch Media Campaign On Stadium Efforts

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 14, 2011 – 10:58 am

The Vikings will kickoff a broader media campaign on the team’s stadium efforts during tonight’s Monday Night Football game in Green Bay. Fans watching the Vikings-Packers game on either KARE 11 or ESPN will see television ads based on the team’s stadium advocacy video unveiled on Saturday, November 5.

The Vikings media campaign is designed to drive accurate information on the stadium issue, arm fans and supporters with the facts, and remind everyone what the Vikings mean to Minnesota. Online, radio, print and television advertising elements will be included over the next several weeks, and the team will begin making community stops around the State to discuss the issue.

“This team is followed by over two million Minnesotans every week and is an important piece of the fabric of this State,” said Lester Bagley, Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development. “We have a great story to tell, and it’s time for us to take the case for a new stadium more directly to the public.”


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Seeing The Big Picture On The Stadium Issue

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 2, 2011 – 12:40 pm

The stadium issue in Minnesota remains at the front of the news cycle, and for good reason. State leadership has struggled to come to resolution and all the while the Vikings Metrodome lease rapidly approaches expiration. In fact, the Vikings lease lasts only 4 more games.

With all the developments and layers to this issue, it’s natural for the casual Vikings fan to feel overwhelmed and under-informed. Heck, sometimes I feel that way, and I’m working inside the walls of Winter Park.

But in Wednesday’s edition of the Star Tribune, columnist Jim Souhan, with the help of local entrepreneur and author Harvey Mackay, who helped earn approval for the bargain and state asset that is the Metrodome, sheds some light on what ultimately this issue means for the state of Minnesota and its residents.

Early in his piece, Souhan writes that he and Mackay agreed on the following:

Big-time sports offer immense tangible and intangible benefits; the Vikings are the most popular entity in the state; losing them would be an embarrassment to our cities and state; the price of building a stadium only goes up every year; building a stadium creates jobs and stimulates at least a portion of the economy; if we lost the team we eventually would pay three-fold to replace it.

After reading that part of the column, I couldn’t help but continue. Click here to read Souhan’s excellent piece; it’s definitely worth the read. Here are a few important take-aways…

Exposure for the state
If you’re a resident of Minnesota, you might not think of it this way, but do you realize how much publicity the State of Minnesota receives each time the Vikings are televised? If you’re a football fan from another state tuning into the Vikings game, you are hit repeatedly with mentions and references to the state.

“Every time the Vikings are on TV, the numbers are enormous,” Mackay told Souhan. “The last time I checked, Minnesota was mentioned 237 times on a three-hour broadcast. Last week I called up an ad guy and, holy cow, he told me that upwards of 40 percent of the entire state was reached by the Vikings game. That’s pretty awesome.

“You’ve got two million USA Todays reporting on the Vikings, plus the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, all the national publications. There are not enough zeros to measure the number of people made aware of Minnesota through the Vikings.”

Making Minnesota More Appealing
We live in a great state here in Minnesota. But we shouldn’t want to keep it all to ourselves. We want more businesses to come here because it will help the local economy. We want more tourists to travel here for the same reason. We want youngsters to attend our schools, businesses to relocate here, existing businesses to expand, etc. Having a professional football team in the state makes it easier to accomplish those tasks.

“We’re competing with adjacent states for jobs,” Mackay said. “All these other states want me to take my factory and move it, to find a cheaper place, to pay lower taxes. I think the legislators know what kind of market we’re in. It’s dog-eat-dog and rat-eat-rat.

“Having major league sports separates us from many other places. And here, we’re talking about an owner who’s willing to invest $400 million in a stadium that is an asset for our state.”

Souhan says
Mackay wasn’t alone in painting a great portrait of the big picture. Souhan was passing along a similar message. He concluded his piece with the following, which was stated simply and logically:

“What everyone should remember as the debate turns risky and complicated is that the costs of building a stadium will be far less than the costs of losing the team, and far less than the costs of replacing the team,” Souhan wrote. “This isn’t a ‘sports” issue. This is a competitive market and quality-of-life issue.”


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Vikings Pleased With Wednesday’s Stadium Discussions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2011 – 6:51 am

Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf was in town on Wednesday and met with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. It’s been a busy week on the stadium front and the meeting between Wilf and Governor Dayton on Wednesday was the latest step of progress made on the stadium issue.

On Tuesday, NFL representatives met with the Governor and with State Lawmakers, a meeting that followed an announcement of intent to call a special session by Governor Dayton on Monday. By no means is the stadium issue approaching the finish line, but there’s no denying the progress that’s being made. The Vikings are grateful to Governor Dayton and other key state leaders who’ve taken leadership and moved the discussion forward.

Here is a statement released by the Vikings late Wednesday afternoon regarding the meeting between Governor Dayton and Mr. Wilf.

“The Vikings and Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf are very pleased with today’s discussion with Governor Dayton. We are appreciative of the Governor’s willingness to move the issue forward this fall and the interest by legislative leaders to work collaboratively with all parties toward a final solution.

 As we knew the Governor would be making a statement to the media this afternoon following the conclusion of his various stadium-related meetings, we felt we should withhold comment, out of respect to the Governor, until he spoke to the media first.  

 Today’s constructive conversation was a continuation of several positive stadium developments in the last few days. The Vikings are committed to doing whatever we can, along with our local partner Ramsey County, the Legislature, Governor, our fans and the citizens of Minnesota to finalize a viable stadium proposal and begin construction as quickly as possible.”


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NFL VP Grubman Worried About “Stalemate,” Hopeful Vikings Remain In MN

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2011 – 6:25 am

It’s a big week for the Vikings on the field, with 1st-round pick QB Christian Ponder set to start his first career game and with the Green Bay Packers coming to town. But it’s been a big week off the field for the Vikings, too, as the stadium issue in Minnesota has come to the forefront.

The stadium issue in Minnesota is not just at the forefront of the Vikings perspective, either. Governor Mark Dayton has made the issue a priority this week, as have state lawmakers. And in yet another illustration of how important relevant and current this issue is, the NFL has gotten in on the act, too.

On Tuesday, NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman headed a group of League representatives who visited the Twin Cities in an effort to assess the stadium issue in Minnesota. According to Grubman, the mission was to get a status update on the progress of a new stadium for the Vikings and then to report their findings to the NFL’s finance and stadium committees. Grubman also brought some good news with him, saying that the NFL believes a funding mechanism will be available for the Vikings and the State of Minnesota to help finance a stadium project.

Grubman met with reporters after meeting with Governor Dayton and Minnesota Legislators, and he had a couple of key messages. Grubman made it very clear that the NFL’s visit to Minnesota was not to provide a directive to State leaders, rather it was to gain a better understanding of the current status of a stadium project. But Grubman was also asked about the Vikings future in Minnesota, specifically he was asked if there’s a realistic chance of the Vikings moving out of Minnesota if resolution to the stadium issue is not reached in a timely manner.

“It’s really not for me to speculate about the possibility,” Grubman said. “All I’ll say is this: we’re worried about a stalemate. And a stalemate means there’s no lease, or the lease is about to expire. There’s no plan for a stadium, and there’s an alternative plan in another city. That’s a stalemate, and the alternative wouldn’t include Minnesota.

“That is, in the way we look at it, a crisis. It’s the Minnesota Vikings, and we’re here to work on the Minnesota Vikings, not some other Vikings or some other franchise. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, to make sure that every possible step is taken to give the Vikings a great chance to succeed in this market.”

Grubman went on to explain that it’s not uncommon for the NFL to visit a certain city or market to assess the progress on stadium plans. Their presence “could run the gamut from an early fact-finding mission to a serious assessment,” Grubman said. But he made it clear that the NFL views the stadium situation in Minnesota as a high priority at this time.

Asked how the NFL would respond to taxpayers’ resiliency to fund stadium projects for NFL clubs in the current economic climate, Grubman acknowledged that man fans all across the country are enduring tough economic times. He even pointed members of his family who are just now entering the workforce and are finding difficulty in hitting the ground running.

“But I also know that great cities are defined by the great institutions that they support,” Grubman said. “And the great institutions are a variety of things. People are attracted to cities not for the traffic jams. They’re attracted to cities because of the great things in those cities, and those are not just their day jobs. They’re attracted for the arts, the performing arts. They’re attracted for museums. They’re attracted for sports franchises.

“You have to decide what puts your city on the map, you’re state on the map, in the way you want it to be on the map. And that doesn’t just mean the Minnesota map. You’re in a competitive environment for companies to locate, for people to locate, for goods to be bought and sold. And so that decision is really for Minnesotans, it’s not for us. We respect the choices that Legislators and citizens have to make, and we hope that choice includes the Vikings here.”


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Another Step Forward In Stadium Issue

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 17, 2011 – 7:11 pm

We mentioned on Sunday morning that this week would be a big week on the stadium front in Minnesota. And the action began right away on Monday afternoon, with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton holding a press conference at the State Capitol to announce his intention to call a special session in November.

The key word in the above paragraph is “intention.” Governor Dayton has not called a special session as of right now, but he indicated he would do so if progress can be made on a stadium proposal. An agreement must be reached between lawmakers and the Governor that limits the scope of the special session to the stadium topic and, specifically, to the financing package.

The framework of the financial package has been determined – the State will contribute $300 million, Ramsey County will pitch in $350 million, and the Vikings will pay the rest, including cost over-runs and operating expenses.

The point of the Governor’s announcement on Monday, which also included a potential start date of November 21, was to put this issue squarely in focus and have all sides “put your cards on the table.”

“We’re very grateful and appreciative of Governor Dayton and State leaders having serious discussions on this issue,” Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs/Stadium Development Lester Bagley said on Monday.

Governor Dayton has informed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell of his intention to call a special session and asked for the League’s support. Speaking of the NFL, representatives from the League are scheduled to be in town tomorrow to assess the stadium situation in Minnesota.

Monday was a good start to the week for the Vikings and Vikings fans. Expect more developments throughout the week.


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Stadium Issue Hits Front Burner This Week

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 16, 2011 – 12:28 pm

For the last few months, the stadium issue in Minnesota may have been background noise to the casual Vikings fans. But that will change this upcoming week.

With meetings scheduled between Governor Mark Dayton and State Legislators as well as the NFL coming into town to assess the stadium situation, you’ll see a lot here on vikings.com, in the newspapers and on national and local news casts about the immediate future of plans for a new stadium in Arden Hills.

The Vikings don’t play until 7:30 p.m. CT tonight, so we thought now is a good time to get a head start in thinking about the upcoming week’s developments on this issue. As this opinion piece in the Pioneer Press states, now is the time to act on the Arden Hills stadium plan. It’s the only solution that works for the State, the County, the team and Vikings fans.

What Can Vikings Fans Do To Help?
– Contract Legislative leaders by clicking here and tell them to support a Fall Special Stadium to ensure the Vikings long term future in Minnesota.
– Follow Minnesota Momentum on Facebook and Twitter
– Stay informed on the issue by logging on to vikings.com and Minnesota Momentum, and also by clicking on the links below…

Bucking Stadium Doubts, Wilf says “Let’s get this done”
Vikings stadium proponents dismiss questions raised by study of Arden Hills site
Wilf says stadium issues are solvable
Panel clears obstacle for Vikings stadium project


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Vikings Reach Final Step In Stadium Discussions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 3:16 pm

It’s been a busy – but positive – week in the pursuit to build a new publicly-owned, multi-purpose stadium in Arden Hills.

NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora is reporting that the NFL is concerned by the progress of the stadium initiative, so concerned that they are reportedly flying to Minnesota next week to to “assess the situation.”

On Tuesday, October 11, the Ramsey County Charter Commission voted against requiring a referendum in November 2012, an effort that would have delayed the stadium project for two years, costing over $100 million and preventing thousands of construction workers from getting back on the job. Just a day later, the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) released their findings from an analysis of the risks associated with this project. While the group’s focus was on the possible worst-case scenarios, the issues raised by the analysis have already been resolved or are in the process of being negotiated.

More importantly, one scenario showed an opportunity to save nearly $76 million on the project, and the study also confirmed off-site transportation improvements will cost $101 million, something the Vikings transportation experts have said for months.

With both the referendum discussion from the last several weeks and the Met Council study findings behind us, now is the time to move forward on this project.

“The sooner we begin the process, the better chance we have of mitigating any risks,” Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said in his Met Council response. “As importantly, moving forward now will also put thousands of construction trades workers back on the job and allow us to take advantage of low interest rates and material costs.”

The Vikings and Ramsey County stand ready to work with State leaders on a final package, including determining the State’s source of $300 million and resolving any remaining issues with the project.

What Can Vikings Fans Do To Help?
– Contract Legislative leaders by clicking here and tell them to support a Fall Special Stadium to ensure the Vikings long term future in Minnesota.
— Follow Minnesota Momentum on Facebook and Twitter
– Stay informed on the issue by logging on to vikings.com and Minnesota Momentum, and also by clicking on the links below…

Bucking Stadium Doubts, Wilf says “Let’s get this done”
Vikings stadium proponents dismiss questions raised by study of Arden Hills site
Wilf says stadium issues are solvable
Panel clears obstacle for Vikings stadium project


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Jared Allen Says Fans Deserve A New Stadium, Too

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 30, 2011 – 7:10 am

The Vikings will travel to Kansas City this week to battle the Chiefs in perhaps the most raucous atmosphere any NFL stadium has to offer. The Vikings trip to Arrowhead Stadium in 2007 was my first road trip with the Vikings and it remains to this day one of my favorite places to visit, even as an opponent coming to play in a hostile environment.

If you’re a football fan, you can’t help but love a place like Arrowhead Stadium and the atmosphere it generates.

Typically the visiting team buses arrive at the stadium three hours prior to kickoff, which sounds pretty early. But when you arrive to the game three hours early in Kansas City, you’re late to the party. Fans attending games at Arrowhead Stadium have every inch of the parking lot covered with tailgating gear well before the visiting team buses arrive, creating quite the scene for the opposing team as they try to collect their pregame thoughts and focus on the game ahead.

This will be a new experience for many of the Vikings players on Sunday. But not for DE Jared Allen. He’s a fixture on the Vikings defense now, but he began his career as a member of the Chiefs and was obviously a fan-favorite there, too. He knows exactly what an A+ stadium experience can do for fans and, in turn, the home team.

That’s exactly why Allen is a proponent for a new football stadium in Minnesota, where there are hundreds of thousands of football fans who would relish in the type of atmosphere Arrowhead Stadium creates.

Click here to watch a video of Jared Allen talking about a new stadium in Minnesota.

“We have such great fans and they continue to come to the dome,” Allen said on Thursday. “Toward the end of that game last week, you couldn’t hear. It was awesome. We’re watching film, and the camera is shaking. So those are passionate fans and they deserve a stadium more than anything, too. Like I said, you get that kind of atmosphere where you’ve got tailgating, I don’t know, there’s just something about it when you pull up into a parking lot where you can tailgate and really get after it that, as a player, you look forward even more so to home games.”

Allen is well-educated about the stadium issue and even acknowledged some of the hurdles that exist. Ultimately, though, Allen is speaking from personal experience and assured fans that a new stadium would be beneficial because the Vikings current stadium is beyond out-dated and because it would create a better game-day experience for paying customers – the fans.

“I understand. I understand people don’t want to pay more [taxes],” Allen said. “But it’s bad. I’m gonna be honest, The Metrodome is bad. I think we have four showers with hot water down there (in the locker rooms). I think it would be good for the whole state of Minnesota. The fans, trust me, you want a new stadium.”


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