Basilica Voices Stadium Concerns; Vikes Find Hidden Metrodome Costs

The Minnesota Vikings claim that building at the Metrodome site would cost $67 million more than previously estimated by Minneapolis officials. Leaders from the Basilica of St. Mary, meanwhile, are expressing concerns about the possibility of a stadium being built near that structure.

With Governor Mark Dayton's January 12 deadline for stadium proposals approaching quickly, two new developments may shake up the stadium debate.

A recent Star Tribune story indicated that Dayton's administration and the state's legislative leaders are telling the Minnesota Vikings that an Arden Hills stadium plan is unlikely to work. The Minneapolis newspaper, citing unnamed sources close to the negotiations, said that several signs imply that the momentum is shifting toward Minneapolis sites, including a location near the Basilica of St. Mary.

But Reverend John Bauer, the basilica's rector, told the Minneapolis newspaper about plans to send a letter to the basilica's 6,300-member parish, in which he expresses “serious concerns” about having a football stadium as a neighbor.

“The basilica is currently a beacon on the skyline, and the notion of a major stadium so close to this historic building is not comforting,” he reportedly wrote, adding that major construction would “do harm to our buildings” and parking for Sunday games would prove “daunting.”

And it now appears Bauer is looking to spread the word of the basilica's concerns: He will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon “to discuss how the Linden Avenue proposed stadium site will adversely affect the parish and its community,” the basilica said in a news release.

In other stadium news, the Minnesota Vikings reportedly wrote in a Tuesday letter to Minneapolis city officials that building a new stadium at the Metrodome site-the preferred site of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak-would carry a larger price tag than the city has previously suggested.

Rybak has reportedly said previously that the Metrodome plan would involve moving the team to temporarily play at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. The team now claims that building at the Metrodome site, when including the costs of playing three seasons at the university during construction, would add $67 million to the project's overall cost, according to a report by the Star Tribune. Minneapolis officials have previously estimated that building there would cost about $895 million.

Vikings President Mark Wilf reportedly wrote in the letter that TCF Bank Stadium poses “limitations” that would cost the team $12.3 million in annual revenue. And the stadium would require about $11 million in upgrades to host NFL games, plus another $19 million to buy and build more parking, he said.

Wilf said that the $67 million in newly identified costs would bring the total price to build at the Metrodome site up to $962 million, the Star Tribune reported.

Throughout the stadium debate, Vikings officials have consistently voiced their support for a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills. But team owner Zygi Wilf recently met with key political leaders and displayed maps showing how a new stadium might fit at two different Minneapolis sites. That move seemed to indicate that the team may be warming to the idea of building near the Farmers Market or the Basilica of St. Mary.