Mark Wilf: Still optimistic, still vague on new Vikings stadium

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2010 - 12:48 AM

Time is short at the Legislature, Mark Wilf acknowledged, but he said leaders "want to get [it] done."

Minnesota Vikings president Mark Wilf said again Friday he was confident the Legislature -- with only three weeks till adjournment -- would approve a public subsidy package for a new stadium this year.

Speaking at a business luncheon in Oakdale, Wilf provided the same optimism he has shown in recent public settings, but likewise offered few details on the team's likely request for public subsidies or any road map showing how it would be accomplished with time running out at the State Capitol.

With the Legislature heading into its final weeks and many legislators still cool to helping the Vikings this year, no proposal for public subsidies has been formally presented.

Wearing a blue blazer and a Vikings lapel pin, Wilf also denied that much of the deal-making was occurring out of the public eye. "I wouldn't view it as something going on behind closed doors," he said. Wilf said the Vikings were leaving it to legislative leaders to determine when the proposal would be made public and what the details might be. "The public has a right to know, obviously, and they will know all the details as it comes out," he said.

"We are optimistic and confident," he said of the proposal's chances this year. "[There's] three weeks to go in the session; our full focus is on that." Legislative leaders, he said, are telling him "this is something they want to get done."

Wilf also said Friday that officials from the National Football League, at some point, would probably help testify at legislative hearings. "They're very supportive, and they'll be out here," he said.

He also left open the possibility on Friday that proposals for a new St. Paul Saints baseball stadium and a practice facility for the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild in downtown St. Paul -- both projects being pushed by city officials -- could become part of the Vikings stadium plan. "We're open-minded to whatever solution that the legislative body feels appropriate," said Wilf.

Louis Jambois, president of the St. Paul Port Authority, said he was hopeful the Vikings stadium proposal would include both St. Paul sports projects. "We think there's some synergism that can be created," he said.

But Jambois said he was not sure any of it could happen before the Legislature adjourned in just a few short weeks. "Conventional wisdom would probably say no," he said. "[But] it ain't over until it's over."

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

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