An agreement to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium at the Metrodome seemed more than ever Tuesday to hinge on Minneapolis’ City Council.
Following an hour-long meeting that included every major player in the stadium saga – except officials from Minneapolis – Gov. Mark Dayton emerged to announce that a possible agreement may not occur until next week, if at all.
“I’m hopeful. I don’t use the word ‘optimistic’ with this project any longer,” Dayton said. “The number of issues that remain are limited, and can be overcome if all the parties are willing.”
Dayton and others were again vague when a stadium financing package would be unveiled. “If I’m guessing, I would guess sometime next week. But it might be sooner, it might be later,” he said.
The Legislature, which has been meeting for a month, could adjourn in late April – a move that already leaves barely enough time for the project to weave its way through multiple hearings and a final vote at the state Capitol.
The governor’s comments Tuesday were echoed by Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who said the team would pledge more than $400 million to a nearly $1 billion new stadium in downtown Minneapolis at or near the Metrodome, where the team has played for three decades. “We don’t feel they’re major points” holding up an agreement, said Wilf, whom Dayton said requested the meeting. “I think over the next couple of days or week we’ll be able to get it done.”
Both the governor and Wilf said the complicated stadium negotiations were down to a few issues – and strongly indicated that Minneapolis’ commitment to join the project financially was perhaps the biggest stumbling block.
A majority of the 13-member City Council still appears to be opposed to adding city tax dollars to the project absent a referendum, despite the urging of Dayton, the Vikings and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. The governor said that Ted Mondale, Dayton’s chief stadium negotiator, would be meeting again Wednesday with city officials on the stadium.
"They're the ones that are going to have to be accountable to the people of Minneapolis, the people of Minnesota, for their decision," Dayton said Tuesday of the City Council. "So, I'm -- again -- hopeful. I'm not going to say optimistic, but hopeful."
Dayton said he hoped those City Council members opposing the stadium package realized "that this is a tremendous boon in terms of jobs, in terms of downtown revitalization, in terms of the future of the city. It's a bigger picture than some of them" understand.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House stadium legislation author, emerged from the meeting in the governor’s office with little to report. “It won’t be today. It won’t be tomorrow,” Lanning said of a stadium agreement, as he turned and walked away.