As some of you know, last Friday (April 29) was the deadline for bills in the Minnesota state legislature to start moving through the committee process. The Minnesota Vikings' stadium bill was not among those presented, meaning supporters will have to seek special dispensation from an administrative committee before moving forward. The session adjourns at the end of the month.
Dispensation isn't difficult to receive, but the bill might remain in a holding pattern until the Vikings strike an agreement with a local government entity to host the stadium. Minnesota Public Radio reported Monday that the team was nearing a deal with Ramsey County to build on a sprawling site in Arden Hills, Minn. Otherwise, however, all indications are pointing toward a site near baseball's Target Field in what's known as the Farmers Market area.
Some major players in the Twin Cities real estate community are supporting the Farmers Market site, envisioning a compact sports entertainment corridor. Building on that site would also allow the Vikings to play in the Metrodome until construction is complete, eliminating a temporary move to the smallish TCF Bank Stadium.
Acquiring the land involved makes the project more expensive than if the new stadium were built on the Metrodome site, but to this point, no local government will support the Metrodome site and pay a share of the costs. But Hennepin County, led by board chairman Mike Opat, has expressed support for the Farmers Market site if other details can be worked out.
Jay Weiner of MinnPost.com has an excellent primer on the site. Here's the key passage: "A key group of business leaders and a political veteran of earlier stadium battles seem to be coalescing around a new site -- the Minneapolis Farmers Market downtown location -- that they believe would leverage the cluster of activity around Target Field, Target Center and the city's entertainment district."
Time is short, and there are other obstacles in play other than the site. (Most notably: The NFL's stadium financing arm is tapped out, at least temporarily eliminating up to $150 million from the private contribution.) But you have to think that a site agreement is critical if this bill is going to move forward, regardless of the committee dispensation issue.