BBAO: Vikings stadium site deal 'close'

We're Black and Blue All Over:

What once seemed a long-shot destination for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium now might be the only site option the team has if it wants to move forward on its push for financing approval in 2011.

Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting the Vikings are close to an agreement with Ramsey County officials, who are offering a sprawling site in the eastern suburb of Arden Hills. The news comes as the state's largest local government, Hennepin County, officially passed on an opportunity to partner with the Vikings on a site known as the Farmers Market.

Ramsey County commissioner Rafael Ortego told the Pioneer Press the sides have agreed on most issues and are hashing through the road enhancements that would be necessary to make the site work. That infrastructure was once believed to be cost-prohibitive, but the Pioneer Press reports the estimates have dropped considerably.

The Vikings are still negotiating with the city of Minneapolis, which is offering the current Metrodome site, but the city can't offer more than $10 million in local contribution. Ramsey County officials have said it could provide roughly a third of a project that could cost at least $900 million.

Mike Opat, the Hennepin County board chairman, told Gov. Mark Dayton that the county couldn't participate in the stadium because of proposed local funding cuts that will require him to reallocate funds.

Wherever they propose the stadium be built, it's clear the Vikings need site certainty before the state legislature considers their bill.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports offers a rule-change suggestion in the aftermath of last week's botched draft trade between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens.

  • The Bears were smart to take care of the Bears in the aftermath of the controversy, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.

  • The lasting lesson of the Dave Duerson suicide on current players, writes Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times, is this: "They had better think -- in advance -- about what they are doing to their being, to their 'personhood.' They need to know this is not about bones or ligaments, breaks or bruises; this is about who you are -- and who you will become."

  • Hungry for your heroes? Kirkland Crawford of the Detroit Free Press has video of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford playing golf with PGA pro Bubba Watson.

  • It would have been a mistake for the Detroit Lions to trade up to draft LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.

  • Defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who is expected to depart the Green Bay Packers via free agency, told Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com that he would have accepted less than market value to stay with the Packers.