Stadium optimism increases after NFL meeting in Minneapolis
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota political leaders and National Football League officials said an hour-long meeting this morning gives them more confidence a Vikings stadium can be built.
Gov. Mark Dayton said House and Senate leaders promised to "do their best to move their respective bills to the floor," although House Speaker Kurt Zellers was less positive in saying he will know more "in a couple of days."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, head of the NFL stadium committee, flew in for a stadium summit with Dayton, legislative leaders and stadium bill authors. They apparently achieved part of their goal, injecting new life in proposals that were defeated or stalled in legislative committees.
But none of the state leaders was willing to declare victory.
"It has to be a good deal for the state of Minnesota," Zellers said after the meeting.
Nearly to a person, the eight state leaders and two NFL officials called the meeting productive, but they gave few specifics.
"Our presence here is a signal of how important it is to the National Football League" that the Vikings remain in Minnesota, Goodell said.
A stadium "is very close to the goal line," Rooney said.
Goodell said he did not threaten state officials with the Vikings moving if there is no new stadium, but others in the meeting said the commissioner made it clear that cities like Los Angeles are interested. A newspaper reported that the Vikings' owners plane was in that city Thursday.
The Wilf family is "very frustrated," Goodell said, but remains committed to Minnesota. The Wilfs were not in today's meeting, but Dayton said he planned to call later.
House bill author Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, called the meeting "constructive," and said it helped add urgency to his cause.
"We cannot afford to have this wait another year," he said.
The Vikings say they cannot continue to play in the Metrodome, where their lease expired two months ago. While the Wilf family says it will not move the team, it has the option of selling it.
The main proposal is for a $975 million stadium on the Metrodome site, with the state paying $398 million, Minneapolis $150 million and the Vikings and other private sources adding $427 million.
A Senate committee where the stadium bill has been stalled for weeks is to meet later today on the issue. It was not clear how the bill would be brought up in the House after a committee defeated ti 9-6 Monday night.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.