By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
Minnesota Vikings’ officials met Tuesday with the developers of the proposed NFL stadium in Los Angeles! That’s the headline.
The story, however, is considerably less ominous.
Tim Leiweke, president of sports developer and facilities manager AEG, was in town to talk about Target Center improvements with Minneapolis and Timberwolves officials. AEG runs Target Center, where Leiweke hung out for several years as Wolves’ vice president.
While here, Leiweke also contacted the Vikings – not to make a pitch to move to L.A., said Vikings’ vice president Lester Bagley, but to talk about the possibility of managing the multipurpose stadium in Arden Hills that the team wants to build with Ramsey County.
“Our desire more than likely is to retain a third-party operator who’s motivated and has expertise in bringing events” to a new stadium, Bagley said.
They also talked about the prospects for Arden Hills as a sports entertainment complex modeled on AEG’s LA Live in downtown Los Angeles. The Vikings, Bagley said, would like to “recreate that energy” if possible.
AEG is seeking an NFL team – or two – to move into Farmers Field, the proposed L.A. stadium. Farmers Insurance has reportedly pledged $800 million to $1 billion in naming fees for the stadium.
Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman reported the Vikings’ meeting Thursday, quoting Leiweke as expressing support for the Vikings’ hopes to build a stadium in Minnesota. “We’ll stay in touch with them and see what we can do to help them long-term,” Leiweke said.
Meanwhile, Bagley again repeated what he said Wednesday after St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proposed a global stadium solution that would replant the Vikings in Minneapolis: “We’re a hundred percent committed to the project in Arden Hills,” he said.
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