Dayton extends a hand for Vikings stadium

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 21, 2010 - 1:33 AM

But he says a plan must come from Legislature.

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After meeting Monday with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, Gov.-elect Mark Dayton said he will support a publicly financed stadium for the team as long as the benefits outweigh the public costs and the state's general fund dollars aren't used to build it.

But the initiative for the stadium is going to have to come from the Republican majority in the Legislature, Dayton said. He doesn't intend to put forward his own plan.

"I stressed it needs to be a collaborative process," said Dayton, who mentioned user fees -- surcharges on stadium-related revenues, such as tickets and memorabilia -- as one way to help fund the massive project, expected to cost between $600 million and $900 million.

Dayton said he sees a new stadium first and foremost as "an investment opportunity that leads to jobs in Minnesota," carrying with it the possibility for up to 8,000 construction jobs.

Dayton said he planned to meet Tuesday with Speaker-elect Kurt Zellers and seek his views on the stadium issue. He said he's detected a lack of willingness among some Republicans to address the issue this session. If that's the case, he said, "Let's find out now and spare us all."

He's certain of one thing, he said: With the Vikings' Metrodome lease expiring at the end of the 2011 season, this will be the last chance for the state to act on a stadium plan.

"I really believe 2011 is the final opportunity for all of us to put forward a proposal. ... I think the writing's on the wall. We need to get it done in this session," he said.

Goodell, in a news conference before the game, said that he held several "productive" meetings Monday with local leaders on prospects for a new stadium.

"I think there's a recognition that we need to find a long-term solution for the Vikings here to get a new stadium built," he said. "We met with the business community. We met with the legislators. And we met with the governor-elect. So we're all going to be working hard to try to find the best solution to keep the Vikings here in Minnesota."

Meanwhile, Zygi Wilf reiterated Monday that he is opposed to a stadium with a roof of any kind, including a retractable one. "Football should be played outdoors," Wilf said.

Progress on patching

At the Dome Monday, the turf was largely kept free of falling snow, thanks to temporary patching of the roof's ragged holes.

But another panel apparently close to rupturing was intentionally opened up Monday afternoon with the use of a shotgun slug, sending ice on the roof crashing to the stadium floor.

Roy Terwilliger, who chairs the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said crews over the weekend used plastic sheets and parts of the roof's inner layer to close the large gaps.

Patching the roof enabled workers to heat the arena to 50 or 60 degrees. That helps melt the snow and ice remaining on the roof.

"They're hopeful that when [snow] strikes the roof there will be enough warmth in there that it will melt it," Terwilliger said.

Plugs on the panels will be opened as needed to drain water from the roof into the stadium bowl, he said. "It's a slow process because the ice is still pretty darn thick on some of those panels."

When a panel heavy with ice appeared ready to break Monday, workers fired a shotgun at it to cause it to tear and dislodge its load, commission spokesman Patrick Milan said. The "controlled measure" may be used again with other panels in danger of failing, he said.

That panel makes the fifth hole in the Metrodome roof.

The commission will have a special meeting Wednesday to discuss how the roof will be fixed and how long it will take.

An order has been placed with a manufacturing firm in Tijuana, Mexico, to make new fabric panels to replace those destroyed in the Dec. 11 snowstorm.

Officials had talked of using surplus material from similar domes, such as the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

But since the Vikings' home season ended Monday night and there's no longer pressure to ready the stadium for a game, Dome officials decided to get new panels with the latest specifications, Terwilliger said. He added that he doesn't know how many panels were ordered.

Terwilliger said that a water line broke in the Dome's production office last Wednesday but did no serious damage. He said there have been no other pipe breaks at the Dome since the storm.

Staff writer Mark Craig contributed to this story. Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455

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