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Vikes, U of M Stadium Plan

By Viking Update Staff

Date: 3/22/2001

With Minnesotans apparently unwilling to foot the tab for a new Vikings stadium, the team will unveil plans today to build a new stadium in conjunction with the University of Minnesota to keep the Vikings in Minnesota for the long haul.

Building a new stadium has been a priority of Red McCombs ever since he bought the Vikings. Wednesday, the efforts to get that done took a big step forward.

The Vikings and the University of Minnesota agreed in principal to sponsor a stadium issue that will be presented to the State Legislature -- the details will be announced today.

From a source close to the issue, VU has been told that the plan is to build a retractable roof stadium that will serve both the Vikings and Gophers on the U of M campus. However, the issue is far from a done deal.

The information we're getting says that the proposed stadium will cost $450-500 million and will require an inordinate amount of additional parking spaces, since the current University of Minnesota sports venues house only enough space for about one-third of the projected crowds that would attend the Gophers or Vikings football games.

The plan laid out by the Vikings to VU Wednesday state that owner Red McCombs will pay $100 million for the construction of the stadium. In addition, the NFL will contribute $50 million. No figure has been set for how much the university would contribute, but it is estimated to be in the range of an additional $50 million. However, that still leaves between $250-300 million that needs to be raised to finance the stadium.

In recent months, legislators and Governor Jesse "Mr. XFL...for now" Ventura have stated that the state won't finance a stadium simply to appease McCombs. However, with the first step being made to get the job done, perhaps a deal can be struck -- but likely not in the current legislative session, giving the Vikings about one year to sway public opinion.

THURSDAY NOTES * The issue of NFL realignment was originally expected to be finalized at next week's owners meetings, but now word is that it will be tabled until late May or early June. Realignment must be completed before the start of the 2001 season. Houston will become the 32nd NFL franchise in 2002. * The Broncos interest in Todd Steussie may have taken a turn for the worse from the Steussie camp's perspective. On Wednesday, a day after Steussie left Denver to talk to Cleveland, the Broncos re-signed offensive tackle Matt Lepsis, who would be the starter at left tackle if Steussie isn't signed. * The Vikings continue to bring in defensive line candidates. Wednesday saw DE Lance Johnstone, a free agent from Oakland, at Winter Park. However, some insiders tell VU the intent of the visits of veteran free agents is more of an effort to get current Vikings free agent Fernando Smith to lower his demands t

-- Mark (Karch, March 22, 2001

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