Dayton Sets Stadium Plan Deadline; Wilf Warms to Mpls.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf reportedly met recently with key political leaders and displayed maps showing how a new stadium might fit at two different Minneapolis sites. Governor Mark Dayton, meanwhile, sent letters Thursday to Ramsey County and Minneapolis setting January 12 as the deadline for their final proposals for the project.

There are signs that the Minnesota Vikings are warming to the idea of building a new stadium at one of two downtown Minneapolis sites. And the governor, meanwhile, has set a deadline for final proposals for the project.

Throughout the stadium debate, Vikings officials have consistently voiced their support for a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills.

And although the team hasn't announced public support for a Minneapolis stadium, the Star Tribune reported that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf met with key political leaders Tuesday and displayed maps showing how a new stadium might fit at a location near the Basilica of St. Mary or at a location typically referred to as the Farmers Market site, which is near Target Field.

And according to a Thursday report by the Star Tribune, Governor Mark Dayton sent letters to Ramsey County and Minneapolis setting January 12 as the deadline for their final proposals for the project.

“It should contain as much detailed information as possible about your proposed means to finance your local share of the project” and also “the reasons you believe your site to be superior,” the governor said, according to the Star Tribune.

The City of Minneapolis had previously backed three sites in the city: the Basilica, Farmers Market, and Metrodome locations. At a December hearing focused on possible funding mechanisms for a new stadium, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced that the city prefers building a stadium at the Metrodome site. But, according to the Star Tribune, team officials remain skeptical of building there.

Minnesota's 2012 legislative session will begin January 24, and lawmakers too seem split on how to move forward with the stadium issue. Senator Julie Rosen, the lead stadium proponent in the senate, said Tuesday that she wants to unveil a final plan for the project by the time the Legislature convenes and then quickly move toward a vote, according to the Star Tribune. But newly elected Senate Majority Leader David Senjem told the Minneapolis newspaper that any stadium plan would “move deliberately” through the Legislature and involve public hearings that likely “would take a while.”

The Vikings finished their season on Sunday with a dismal record of 3-13-marking the end of the team's lease at the Metrodome. The team on Tuesday announced the appointment of Rick Spielman as general manager. Spielman has been with the team since 2006 and previously served as vice president of player personnel. The team said that Spielman will now “oversee all football-related activities for the Vikings, including continuing to direct college and pro personnel programs.”