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Vikes eye land next to Dome

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 22, 2011 - 11:49 PM

One possible benefit: The team could play in the old stadium while work on a new one went forward.

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If the Vikings build a new stadium next to the Metrodome, the team could play in the old stadium while a new one is under construction.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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The Minnesota Vikings are looking at yet another site for a new stadium -- right next to the old one.

The idea would be to leave the Metrodome standing for the Vikings to play in while the new stadium is built. That way, the team wouldn't have to pay to play at least a couple of seasons at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. And it would still reap the rewards of the Dome's infrastructure and transit connections.

Ted Mondale, chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said Tuesday that the Vikings are eyeing property owned by the Star Tribune in downtown Minneapolis that abuts the Metrodome site.

Mondale's comments to reporters at a commercial real estate forum in Bloomington, where he and Vikings vice president Lester Bagley were giving a stadium update, was the first public confirmation that a fifth option is in play in the latest round of stadium talks.

"I think it's definitely a potential option that the Vikings or the public would buy that site," Mondale said in an interview after the talk.

The idea of leaving the Metrodome standing while building a new facility "has a significant benefit to the Vikings," he said.

Asked whether the Vikings have had any talks with the Star Tribune in the past six months, Mondale said he had no idea.

Star Tribune chairman Mike Sweeney declined to comment on Mondale's remarks. So did Bagley.

Four possible sites for a new stadium have been bandied about: the Metrodome, an area west of Target Field in Minneapolis, part of the Target Corp. campus in Brooklyn Park and the former Twin Cities Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills.

Mondale said he had a phone call from the mayor of Brooklyn Park "and I think we're getting together." But he said Hennepin County, not the city, would have to be the funding partner for the Brooklyn Park site to work.

"There's some movement on [Hennepin] County," Mondale said, but he wouldn't elaborate.

Mondale said Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat, a pivotal figure in getting financing for Target Field, is waiting to see what happens at the Legislature with a stadium bill. Opat said Tuesday there was nothing new on the county front.

The option of using Star Tribune land for a new stadium development has been in play before.

In 2007, the Vikings struck a tentative $45 million deal for four parking lots and a little-used building owned by the Star Tribune but then withdrew from it, citing turmoil in the nation's credit markets.

In that scenario, a new stadium would have been built on the Dome site and the newspaper property would have been used for commercial and residential development.

It's not the only downtown site in play. Mondale said there has been considerable interest from downtown business leaders in building a new Vikings stadium near the Twins ballpark to create an entertainment district.

"There's a lot of energy behind that site," he said.

But in a meeting with Vikings' officials Friday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he wanted the team to stay in Minnesota and reiterated his preference for a new stadium at the Dome site rather than the one near Target Field.

The latter site contains city, business and nonprofit operations and would be "a lot more complicated" to develop, mayoral spokesman John Stiles said.

The buzz about a new stadium has been getting louder, and many say a deal needs to get done during this legislative session. Still, there's no bill or a funding plan.

Bagley said Tuesday that he expects lawmakers to present a stadium bill in the next couple of weeks. "We're trying to be patient," he said.

Mondale said he was concerned that NFL collective bargaining could hold up progress on the bill at the State Capitol.

The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome, which has a damaged roof, ends after the 2011 season.

Staff writer Kevin Duchschere contributed to this report. Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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