The Vikings have once again sent a clear message to Minnesota politicians: They want any new Vikings stadium in the Twin Cities to be an outdoor facility.
In an interview Wednesday, Vikings VP of Public Relations Lester Bagley said the team would be willing to chip in a third of the cost to build a new roofless stadium, which he estimates would carry a price tag of $700 million. However, Bagley made it clear that the Vikings would not pony up extra funds for either a permanent or retractable roof on that stadium.
“‘A roof does not provide any benefit to the Vikings,” Bagley said. ”It also costs a couple hundred million dollars more in capital costs, in addition to the operating costs that are much higher for a covered facility.”
Minnesota politicians, on the other hand, have been pushing for a new domed facility that would house not only the Vikings but a multitude of other events. “‘If you’re going to put this much capital, this much sweat and tears into it, you’re going to need a 365-day facility like the Metrodome,” explained state Sen. Julie Rosen. Besides Vikings football, the Metrodome also plays host to many high school and college athletic events.
With the state facing a $6 billion budget shortfall, it might be tough convincing taxpayers to put up two-thirds of the money to build yet another stadium on top of the new Twins and Gophers facilities. Putting a roof on that stadium so it can be used to house non-NFL events in the winter months, giving it more value to the city at large, would be a good way of selling the idea to more people, but that plan puts lawmakers squarely at-odds with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf who has been adamant about his desire for an outdoor stadium.
With the Vikings’ Metrodome lease expiring after 2011 and the team already being contacted by Los Angeles interests looking to bring the NFL back to that metro area, the Vikings would appear to have plenty of leverage in this battle. At this point, the whole thing appears to boil down to a game of chicken: Will the Vikings give in to the politicians’ calls for a roofed stadium or will they hold firm in their desire for an outdoor facility, forcing the politicians to either cave-in on the roof (pun sort of intended) or risk the disaster of being blamed for losing the Vikings?