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Continued: Referendum could be deal-breaker

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 1, 2011 - 11:11 PM

If you got a chance to tour the proposed new stadium site for the Vikings in Arden Hills, you would think it is a real eyesore in Ramsey County. Approving funding for the stadium would start the effort to clean up all the junk there and put something pleasant on the site.

This week I got a chance to look over the site -- where a peak of some 26,000 workers manufactured ammunition during World War II -- along with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and former Vikings coach Bud Grant. It's a sad piece of land that should be developed.

I've been a big booster for a Vikings stadium to be built either on the Metrodome site or at the Farmer's Market site in downtown Minneapolis.

But after viewing the site, which will include parking for 26,000 cars, I can see how much people will enjoy tailgating there like they used to do at Met Stadium. There will be a lot of work to be done in order to build the stadium, including demolishing several buildings.

The Vikings have done a lot of work to convince politicians in the Legislature of the benefits of the stadium and to vote in favor of it. The Wilf family is putting in more money to build the stadium than most other franchises have contributed that have recently built new facilities. But we still have Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers calling for a referendum in Ramsey County on the proposed half-percent sales tax needed to fund the stadium.

I suggest Koch check with her Buffalo constituents on how she would fare in a future election if the Vikings, who are in the last year of their Metrodome lease, decide to move to Los Angeles or some other place if they can't finalize this deal.

I agree with Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who has been pushing hard for the Arden Hills site, that a referendum would kill the stadium proposal. And if there wasn't a referendum for the Twins' Target Field, which has been such a major success, why have one for the Vikings stadium?

If a referendum took place and voters defeated the tax-increase proposal, believe me, it's a cinch the Vikings would move. The team would be stuck in the Metrodome with no chance to take in the necessary revenue to compete with other teams.

All signs point to two teams moving to Los Angeles to play in their proposed new downtown stadium. The Vikings could be one of them.

So we can blame Koch and Zellers for trying to kill a perfect site for a stadium and the other developments that would follow once the new home for the Vikings is built.

Big site

The site is over 2,000 acres, most of it owned by the U.S. Army. Of this, the stadium would take 450 acres and the Wilfs would eventually develop 250 more acres with shops, restaurants and other venues to enhance the gameday experience.

As Wilf pointed out to me, you can see the Minneapolis downtown skyline from the Arden Hills site and when the stadium is built, you will have a view of both downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. The site is about 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis and 8 from downtown St. Paul.

There is all this talk about the lack of freeway access and the need for additional roads to accommodate 65,000 fans going to a game at the stadium. But Interstate 35W and Hwy. 10 were fine on our drive to the site, without too much trouble despite all of the MnDOT work going on.

"We've met with MnDOT and we've reviewed the access points throughout the whole site," Wilf said. "It has great visibility and great access points from many points on 35. Route 10 is going to be expanded. We've talked over with MnDOT improvements that would be necessitated for us to bring this site to a traffic plan that will get traffic in and out in a minimum time.

"As you can see, this is a Superfund site which is going to be cleaned up. Much of it has been cleaned up by the Army, but the rest of it will be cleaned up and be put to productive use, such as the stadium, [Vikings] Hall of Fame, parking for tailgaters and the experiences that will bring."

Wilf added: "We're going to provide state-of-the-art types of media and information services, and facilities such as restaurants and entertainment will also be part of the surrounding development."

Wilf envisions a stadium with a retractable roof that could be used for many other events besides the 10 or so Vikings games each season, including Final Fours, Super Bowls and all types of entertainment, following the model that has made the Dallas stadium such a success.

"We envision this to take over a period of three years to get this thing built," Wilf said. "It's very important that we get going because every year that passes, the costs go up by a significant amount. So we're looking forward to getting this done with the county and with the state in a timely fashion. It's a great location. It's a location that's so close to the Twin Cities and right in the middle of the metro area. I think it will be a tremendous boost for the economy of the north metro area."

But just leave it to these great politicians in this town to mess it up. Remember, Cleveland lost its NFL team and it cost them double to build a stadium to get one back years later. The same thing happened in Baltimore.

Politicians such as Koch and Zellers are setting the stage for no pro football being here for several years. Then you will come begging to get the NFL to bring an expansion team to a new stadium, which, you can rest assured, would be built without a referendum.

Jottings

• The word is that the performance-enhancing drug portion of the NFL collective bargaining agreement is not settled and once it is, there is a good chance Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who currently is slated for a two-game suspension, might not miss any games. ... Don't rule out the possibility that defensive tackle Pat Williams might return this year if the coaches believe they need defensive line help. Williams has not signed with anybody and he claims money is the reason he is not back.

• The Vikings' season-ticket sale is presently 50,000, 5,000 less than a year ago, even though they have sold 3,000 new season tickets. Season tickets are available, as well as single-game tickets for every game.

• Steve Fisher recently signed a new four-year contract to coach men's basketball at San Diego State. Brian Dutcher, son of former Gophers coach Jim, is an assistant to Fisher and will succeed him as head coach when Fisher's contract expires.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 10 1st Half 4:48
UC Santa Barbara 25
Baylor 39 2nd Half 15:50
Memphis 37
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
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Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
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