Tuesday, January 29, 2013
BBAO: 'The People's Stadium' fight begins
By Kevin Seifert
We're Black and Blue All Over:
Good morning. There's nothing like a long weekend in January to offer unfettered snow shoveling time and a deadline-free Pro Bowl watching environment.
While we were gone, Richard Meryhew of the Star Tribune published a story that has reverberated around the Twin Cities sports scene. It detailed the fight between the Minnesota Vikings and its future landlord over the design of their new stadium. Namely, the sides are at odds over how much flexibility the facility should have to squeeze in a baseball diamond for the hundreds of high school and college baseball games it will host during the cold weeks and months of the early spring.
The Vikings are holding firm to a design that would put the right field fence 285 feet and the power alley 319 feet away from home plate. Those distances would allow them to put football seats 44 feet away from the field, a proximity that presumably would sell at a high price, but they fall below standards for college games.
The team's landlord wants a bigger baseball dimensions, pushing back the football seats. An extended dispute could disrupt the timeline to open for the 2016 NFL season.
Gov. Mark Dayton has referred to the $975 million structure as "The People's Stadium" because of taxpayers' $498 million contribution. The idea was to allow Minnesotans access to it whenever football games are not being played, and the Vikings were well aware of that component when they made their $477 million investment. There is surely room for compromise here, but the issue is a reminder that the facility isn't and can't be a football-only stadium. In order to secure funding, the Vikings had to accept a less-than-ideal arrangement. If they wanted their ideal, they could have funded it privately. Groundbreaking is scheduled for October 2013.
Continuing around the NFC North: