By Andrew Tellijohn
The National Football League commissioner emerged from a meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and key legislators this morning saying he is pleased by significant progress being made toward building a stadium and keeping the Vikings in Minnesota.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would contribute an undetermined amount to stadium construction costs, likely through a club seat waiver program, where visiting teams forfeit their share of club seat revenue.
Goodell met with Dayton and legislative leaders to discuss the $1 billion project that would be built at the abandoned munitions plant in Arden Hills. Goodell said he visited the site preferred by the Vikings over the existing Metrodome location in Minneapolis, calling it “extraordinary.”
The commissioner would not address questions about the ramifications of not passing a stadium bill this year, instead focusing on hopes that a deal can be reached by Monday’s legislative adjournment date. The stadium needs the Legislature’s approval.
“We’re focusing on finding a solution,” he said. “Everyone wants the Vikings to be here. Let’s try to get it done.”
Dayton, Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead and Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont said they appreciated Goodell’s visit. They acknowledged that there are still significant hurdles to reaching a stadium deal before adjournment. But they agreed they are moving forward as though a deal still could be completed.
Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel also said today he plans to meet with state road engineers and Ramsey County officials with hopes of pinning down an exact figure for transportation upgrades needed to make the site viable. Lanning said that is one of the key questions that remains to be answered.
Estimates last week put the road improvement cost at $175 million to $240 million, but Ramsey officials believe it can be done for less.
That is one stumbling point in a deal that would involve a $300 million contribution from the state, $350 million from Ramsey county and $407 million from the team.
The Vikings say they will not play at the Metrodome after next football season. A new stadium would provide a venue for many events, sports and other types of entertainment.
The stadium would seat 65,000 people under a retractable roof.
Andrew Tellijohn is a Twin Cities freelance writer.