The Vikings are reportedly getting close to hammering out a final stadium deal. When that deal comes – maybe this afternoon along with an overall state budget agreement - the numbers will not be quite the same as we have been hearing. According to the Star-Trib’s Rochelle Olson, $200 million have been lopped off the original $1 billion-plus Arden Hills stadium price tag. Additionally, Olson says the Vikings have agreed to up their contribution to north of $420 million.
When news came of the mysterious $200 million reduction, speculation began about what that would mean for the ambitious Arden Hills project. One proposal put forth, most notably by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, was that governor Mark Dayton and legislators might have given in on requiring a roof, allowing Zygi Wilf to construct the open-air stadium he always said he wanted. Not adding a retractable or fixed roof to the stadium would reduce the cost by somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million.
Seifert later conceded the unlikelihood of the roof disappearing from the stadium proposal. However, the possibility still remains that a major concession was made on the nature of the roof. A fixed roof would be cheaper than a retractable one, though not by the magic $200 million number. It’s possible that, along with agreeing to contribute more money to the project, the Vikings also gave in an agreed to a fixed roof as part of an overall $200 million reduction.
The fixed roof would be a major concession by Zygi Wilf, whose master plan includes trying to lure an MLS team by allowing for open-air games (MLS apparently doesn’t like playing under roofs). The retractable roof also would allow for the elements to possibly play a part during winter football games, helping restore some of the homefield advantage the Vikings enjoyed during their glory days, though that factor would be limited by NFL rules governing the use of retractable roofs (another reason they’re known as the No Fun League).
With any luck we will soon know how all these numbers work themselves out, and what final form the proposed stadium will take. At this point I think fans would be happy to forgo the retractable roof if it means getting the deal done.