Tentative stadium deal for U, Vikings

It would give team a place to play during construction. Also, Minneapolis says Target Center improvements still on table.

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The Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota have struck a tentative deal on how much the team will pay the U to play at TCF Stadium while a new Vikings stadium is built near the Metrodome.

While declining to say how much the Vikings would pay per game, Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said Monday that the tentative agreement would add roughly 3,000 temporary end zone seats to the university's 50,000-seat stadium. "We have close to 53,000 season-ticket owners, so we're trying to at least get to that," said Bagley, the team's vice president for stadium development and public affairs..

Other details still need to be resolved before the plan can be finalized, Bagley said Monday. "I'd say there's an agreement in principle there, but formal signoff is yet to occur between the Vikings and the university," he said.

Because it is unclear how many games or seasons the team would play at TCF, Bagley said the school and team had reached a tentative agreement on the cost per game.

In December 2010, the team paid $1.7 million to play a game at TCF after the Metrodome roof collapsed.

Target Center still in play?

Also on Monday, Minneapolis officials asserted that Target Center improvements remain on the table as they work toward a public deal for a new football stadium.

Sources told the Star Tribune last week that Target Center renovations and refinancing were being handled separately from the proposed Vikings deal.

The city would, however, be allowed to use existing taxes for the aging, city-owned arena.

Mayor R.T. Rybak wants to use hospitality taxes to help pay for a stadium after Convention Center bonds are retired in 2020, while redirecting some money to renovate and pay debt on Target Center.

"It is still part of the deal," said Chuck Lutz, the city's development chief. "It's an integral part of the deal. ... The key reason why we're doing this deal is because of Target Center."

Taken over by the city in 1995, Target Center has become a major burden to city taxpayers. The city recently calculated that it will have to spend about $32 million on the arena over the next 10 years.

Legislative leaders at the Capitol have said a Vikings bill that benefits Target Center could cost precious votes at the Capitol.

"Target Center being included in this complicates the whole deal," the stadium bill's House author, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said Friday. "If, in fact, [it's] not, then that would avoid some complication."

There is also disagreement over whether the city even needs Legislative action. In 2009, the Legislature passed a law allowing the city to use the excess money for capital projects. There's no excess money now, but there will be when bonds are paid in 2020.

"I think it's clear that we are not counting on being able to have this revenue in the future unless we can come to some better agreement with all the various parties, including the Legislature," said Jeremy Hanson Willis, Rybak's chief of staff.

Hanson Willis said he has heard "various opinions" about whether the city already has the authority to redirect the money to Target Center, adding that there's no certainty the taxes will still exist by 2020.

A $55 million hole in the city's financing plan also remains.

"It would have to be a series of new revenues or cost reductions somewhere, but we have not got that totally determined yet," Lutz said.

mkaszuba@startribune.com • 651-925-5045 eric.roper@startribune.com • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

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