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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Vikings warming to Metrodome stadium site

By Kevin Seifert

A letter the Minnesota Vikings sent to Minneapolis leaders Tuesday is, of course, open to interpretation. Here's mine: The Vikings are moving closer to accepting not only that their new stadium will be in downtown Minneapolis, but also that it will be located on the current Metrodome site.

Otherwise, I'm not sure they would have taken such pains to spell out the costs associated with relocating to TCF Bank Stadium for three years while the new stadium is under construction. The letter, released by the Vikings through their website, suggests the relocation will cost $48 million and also points out that the new stadium will need $19 million in parking enhancements to meet NFL standards.

The letter still refers to the suburban Arden Hills site as "ideal," but it's grown increasingly evident that state leaders are skeptical of its financial viability. Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak favors the Metrodome site because of existing infrastructure, and the Vikings are no doubt reacting to the obvious wind shift.

In many ways, the letter represents an effort to get the best deal at the Metrodome site. It projects the Vikings will lose $37 million in revenues by playing in a smaller stadium, implying that deficit should be folded into the new stadium's financing. It also notes that someone will have to pay $11 million for improvements in the state-owned TCF Bank Stadium, including underground heaters to prevent the field from freezing at the end of the NFL season.

The letter, signed by Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf, acknowledges that the Metrodome site is "workable" but requires the relocation and parking issues to be addressed before the proposal could be complete. That's a long way from the days when the Vikings considered Arden Hills their only viable option.