Commish pledges funds for Vikings
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said after meeting Tuesday with Gov. Mark Dayton and supporters of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium that the league will contribute financially to its construction, and that he believes efforts to get the facility built are ensuring the team's future in the state.
"I think the commitment here is to get something done and I think that will ensure the success of the Vikings," said Goodell, after he was asked if he could envision a scenario where the team would leave Minnesota.
The NFL commissioner met early in the morning at the governor's residence with Dayton, legislators sponsoring the stadium bill and state transportation commissioner Tom Sorel to talk about the team's partnership with Ramsey County to build a $1.1 billion stadium in suburban Arden Hills. With less than a week left in the legislative session, stadium talks are hung up on the cost of fixing roads near the site and who should pay for it.
Sorel said after the meeting his agency will have a more exact figure on road costs by Wednesday. Dayton and the chief legislative sponsors, Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont and Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead, once again firmly stated that the state's share will not exceed $300 million -- and that any road-improvement costs will have to come out of that total.
"We still have work to do in terms of pinning down what are the transportation needs over and above what's already planned," Lanning said. "That is the most important issue."
Goodell would not reveal how much the league would kick in, saying he would release more details in the next few days. As part of its deal with Ramsey County, the Vikings pledged to pay $407 million, about 39 percent of the total project cost.
"Those are discussions that are going on in part based on the types of revenue that can be created," said Goodell, who turned up shortly after his meeting with Dayton at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis where the league is in mediation with the players union over the NFL lockout.
A provision in the stadium legislation at the Capitol will prevent stadium construction from getting underway until the league's labor dispute is settled.
Goodell toured the Arden Hills site on Monday, a former Army ammunition plant about 10 miles northeast of the team's current home at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. Goodell called the site "extraordinary" and "very exciting" and reaffirmed that the team's leadership feels strongly about building there.
With questions still hanging about the total cost of the project, and with Dayton and lawmakers still far apart on how to erase the state's $5 billion state budget deficit, the biggest obstacle facing the stadium plan at the Capitol is time. Lawmakers must adjourn their regular session by next Monday at midnight -- though the unresolved budget dispute threatens to force a special session that could give lawmakers more time to work on the stadium too.
"Where there's a will there's a way and yes, anything is possible," Dayton said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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