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Updated: January 10th, 2012 11:59am
Deadline looming, Vikings express concerns about building on Dome site

Deadline looming, Vikings express concerns about building on Dome site

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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With a deadline looming on Thursday for the City of Minneapolis to submit its proposal for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, team owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf on Tuesday sent a letter to Mayor R.T. Rybak and Council President Barbara Johnson raising concerns about the city's preferred site.

City leaders have said they plan to bring forth a plan for an $895 million stadium project on the existing site of the Metrodome, which would be razed to make room for the new facility the Vikings have sought for most of the past decade.

In the letter, the Wilfs urged that it is "imperative that your analysis of Minneapolis stadium sites include all costs associated with each site," specifically pointing to the revenue that would be lost if the Vikings are forced to play three seasons at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus during construction.

The Vikings, who have campaigned for a more than $1 billion stadium project in Arden Hills that appears all but dead, perennially are among the NFL's lowest-revenue teams. Ramsey County officials do plan to submit a proposal to Gov. Mark Dayton by Thursday, too, but it's believed Dayton supports the Minneapolis plan as well.

It's no surprise the Vikings want to stress the financial implications of building on the Metrodome site, given that it wouldn't present comparable revenue opportunities to the site in Arden Hills. However, it is believed the Vikings would ultimately support any stadium site that yields sufficient public funding.

The letter identified three issues that must be accounted for:

1. TCF Bank Stadium Revenue Limitations: The Vikings have played one game at TCF Bank Stadium, and we have worked well with the University of Minnesota. However, due to limitations on stadium space and capacity, available sponsorships, and fan amenities at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings estimate that the team would generate $12.3 million less each year at TCF Bank Stadium than the Metrodome -- or approximately $37 million in total operating losses over three seasons.

2. Capital Improvements to TCF Bank Stadium: For TCF Bank Stadium to meet minimum NFL requirements for three seasons, stadium contractors and architects estimate that nearly $11 million in facility upgrades would be necessary for this college football stadium. It is also important to note these upgrades would benefit the University of Minnesota on a long term basis.

3. NFL Program Requirements at Metrodome: Program requirements for parking for Vikings' premium customers (club seat holders, suite owners, etc.) including 2,500 parking spaces on-site or immediately adjacent to the stadium. To meet these requirements, there are $19 million in costs associated with acquiring and building the additional parking inventory.

The $67 million in costs identified above bring the total costs to build at the Metrodome site to $962 million. In addition to these cost considerations, the Vikings have concerns about the significant disruptions to our football team, our fans, and our sponsors and partners, as well as the potential challenges created for University of Minnesota neighborhoods, during the three-year period when we would have to play our games at TCF Bank Stadium.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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