The Vikings have launched a six-figure, month-long media blitz of television, radio, print and online ads aimed at building public support for a new stadium.
The elaborate campaign started on Monday night, when hundreds of thousands of fans tuned in to the team's nationally televised border battle with the Green Bay Packers and saw an ad featuring iconic images of the Vikings and a voice that boomed: "This is our team. This is our state. This is our home." The ad also told viewers the stadium would be "owned by the great state of Minnesota" and would bring "over 7,000 jobs and $300 million in wages."
The Capitol remains muddled, and the fate of a special session to pass a stadium bill is unclear. A flurry of high-profile meetings last month ended with legislators, the governor and the team still sorting out their next moves.
"We think it is time to close the deal," said Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of public affairs and stadium development.
The Vikings have spent big to get the issue in front of legislators and Minnesotans before. In 2006, when the Twins won approval for a new Minneapolis ballpark, the football team spent $1.2 million on lobbying for a new home, including $700,000 on ads.
On Monday night, the ads ran in Minnesota on KARE-11 and ESPN.
The team has pledged to put up about 40 percent of the $1.1 billion needed to build a new home in Ramsey County's Arden Hills, leaving the state to pay 60 percent.
Bagley said the campaign will continue into December, with ads timed to coincide with football events and during news shows. He said the ads would involve statewide print, radio and social media campaigns as well. Bagley would not give an exact figure on how much the team plans to spend, but said it would reach well into six figures.
Bagley said the team also will bring current and former players to several "stadium-focused" events around the state to make the case for a replacement for the Metrodome.
"We have a great story to tell, and it's time for us to take the case for a new stadium more directly to the public," he said in a statement.
The ads' scripts do not explicitly promote the Vikings' preferred Arden Hills site, although the scripts do briefly show an artist's rendering of a stadium at the Ramsey County location. Minneapolis, the team's current home, has proposed three possible sites for a new stadium.
Bagley said the media campaign is less about a specific site than about the bigger picture, getting the state's leaders to move the project forward.
The end of the ad and an online component asks fans to call the four legislative caucus leaders and the governor and ask them to do just that.
But Minnesotans are already making their feelings known.
When word spread earlier this month that House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, opposed a special legislative session to solve the stadium question, his office was inundated with calls and e-mails. House spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said in the days that followed, Zellers office got 150 voice mails and 1,500 e-mails about the stadium.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, has seen only a minor uptick in calls, said spokesman Michael Brodkorb. Gov. Mark Dayton, who has been urging action on the stadium issue, has gotten about 1,200 calls for and against a stadium and another 1,300 from those who oppose using constitutionally dedicated Legacy funds to help build a stadium.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482 Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • Twitter: @rachelsb