A crowd of fifty-plus people crowded into a meeting room at Hasley Hall at the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome to hear and voice their opinions about the fate of the Minnesota Vikings stadium. A crowd of fifty-plus people crowded into a meeting room at Hasley Hall at the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome to hear and voice their opinions about the fate of the Minnesota Vikings stadium.
The meeting was the last stop on the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission's state-wide tour, during which they discussed what should be done to the Dome after it loses the Gophers and Twins to their new homes. The University of Minnesota football team will move to their new stadium in 2009 and the Twins in 2010.
Those in attendance were privy to the commission's plans to build a massive $954 million retractable roof stadium that would be just the tip of the iceberg as far as redevelopment Downtown goes.
The issue isn't whether these plans will come to fruition, but how? The Vikings have already agreed to put up $250 million, but some taxpayers are concerned that instead of the state finding a way to privately fund the rest of venture, they will end up footing the bill.
The most common opposition is that the state of Minnesota should have bigger priorities than building or renovating a stadium for the Vikings, such as building and inspecting bridges, flood relief and education issues.
"This is not the right time for this," one attendee yelled. "People are having a hard time here. You want to do this right now while people are hearing the word recession?"
Roy Terwilliger, chair of MSFC, says that there is no time like the present.
"We want to take advantage of the costs before they continue to rise," Terwilliger said.
The chairman says that similar plans for a Twins stadium with a retractable roof back in 1997 were estimated at $280 million. That stadium today is going to cost $550 million without the retractable roof.
For some, the cost is just a number, merely a realization of what it takes to just get it done.
"Cost aside, what value can you put on the quality of life that a team like the Vikings bring to Minnesota?" asked Larry Spooner, a man who considers himself the ultimate Vikings fan.
One attendee said the solution is simple: "Those who benefit from the stadium should pay for it. It's good economics and good politics."
In a way, we all benefit from it. The Vikings bring in $6.4 million dollars in revenue for the state per year. Not only that, but new construction brings new jobs.
"Make sure you think about all the people who make their money because these types of places [like the Metrodome] exist." said Rob Schnider, a member of the audience.
The MSFC would like to make a decision by 2009. They say that the project will take about two years of planning and another two and a half years to build.