NEW ORLEANS -- I'm still having trouble understanding how the Minnesota Vikings will win approval for a new stadium with the NFL and its players at odds over the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Among other hurdles, the Vikings wouldn't have access to a $150 million NFL loan that would be crucial to any financing package.
But in speaking to a small group of reporters Monday, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said he doesn't believe that a new CBA is necessary for a stadium bill to pass. (Recently, Vikings officials have suggested the plan could be approved now and activated when the CBA is passed.)
Wilf said "I'm optimistic" that a stadium deal is on the horizon and added: "[M]ost important is we don't want [the labor tension] to detract us from getting our home and making sure that the stadium issue gets resolved, so that the future games for the Minnesota Vikings can be in a stadium that can be very proud of for both our team and our community."
As of Monday, no stadium bill had been introduced in the 2011 session of the Minnesota state legislature. Among many unanswered questions is where the stadium would be located; as many as four site suggestions are floating. Is it realistic to settle on a site, navigate the labor hurdle and get a bill approved before the legislature adjourns by the third week of May?
Wilf said he believes the site studies and bill progression could take place "concurrently." I wonder how realistic that is, but it's probably the only way a bill would get serious consideration. In the end, the site would be determined as part of the last-minute bill configuration that typically occurs before a bill is passed.
If you're an advocate for a new stadium, there remains an uncomfortable number of question marks on this issue. The only fact we know for sure is the Vikings' lease at the Metrodome expires on Feb. 1, 2012.
"I think we all know what has to get done to get a stadium done," Wilf said, "and we have to work together with a site. But we want to make sure that the site and the commitment from our partner, whoever that might be, works together so that we can accomplish this goal."