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Updated: Tuesday, 06 Dec 2011, 3:10 PM CST
Published : Tuesday, 06 Dec 2011, 8:51 AM CST
MINNESOTA - Show the Vikings the money - that's what the team needs to stay in Minnesota.
Minnesotans are facing a tough decision: whether to pay up to build the Vikings a new stadium, or face having the team leave and be invaded by the cheesehead-wearing Pack.
A Vikings fan posted the taunting video on YouTube to help sway the case for the state pitching in $650 million for a new $1.1 billion football facility. In the video, Wisconsin sends Minnesotans a cheesehead with the message, "go ahead put it on...if you need me I'll be right next door."
Could Minnesota become Packers country?
"It would be a tragic situation because the Vikings belong in Minnesota and the key is we want to be here, owners of the team want to solve the issue here," said Vikings vice president Lester Bagley.
Bagley is in charge of getting a new stadium built, a project that has been going on for more than a decade. But now with the 30-year lease on the Metrodome up at the end of this season, it's now or never for the Vikings in Minnesota.
"It's been no secret the team has been approached by other communities more than one and both groups in Los Angeles have contacted us there have been other communities also," said Bagley.
Bagley wouldn't name the other communities, but did tell us they are not confined to just California - that lured away the Minneapolis championship basketball team called the Lakers. Yes those Lakers. That was the year before the Vikings were formed in 1961.
"L.A. Vikings? I know they stole the Lakers years ago, but it doesn't sound right," said Vikings fan Joan Westmoreland.
Tom Trudeau admits like many Vikings fans he's not sure what is going to happen with his team, but he hopes they end up staying put.
Some fans would rather the Vikings leave Minnesota than have to pay to build them a new stadium when the Metrodome is already paid for, and the state is facing massive debt.
"The stadium is not important, it's just not important," said Darnella Wade, a football fan from St. Paul.
But the threat of the team leaving if they don't get a new stadium doesn't sway Wade.
"Goodbye. Sorry. Hey I love football but not enough to trade in my housing, and jobs," said Wade referring to better ways to spend state money.
What would force the Vikings to leave? The Vikings don't want to speculate.
What the Vikings do say is they want to work out a deal to stay. And there is not one, but four possible sites being pitched to build the Vikings a new home. Three are in the city of Minneapolis - all just in the preliminary stages: two sites on the west side near Target Field and the other plan is to redevelop the Metrodome site.
"That facility could be built at the current site much the way Lambeau Field or Soldier Field in the case of Chicago and Green Bay were done," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
The Vikings though have been working on their own plan with the city of Arden Hills, ten miles to the north of the Twin Cities.
It's in Arden Hills on a vacant Army ammunitions plant site the Vikings are proposing a $1.1 billion stadium complex. That includes $822 million for the covered stadium itself, $188 million for on site infrastructure, including practice fields, outdoor pond and ice rink, parking and environmental needs, and another $101 million for off site transportation needs. In comparison, the Packers renovated Lambeau Field in 2003 for $295 million, with plans now for another $130 million addition to add 7,000 more seats.
Why do the Vikings like this site the best? In addition to plenty of room to build a stadium and acres and acres of parking, there is also room for other development opportunities, and that's where the Vikings can generate more money.
Sound familiar? That's what the Packers have been doing in recent years buying up more than 25 acres around Lambeau Field for potential development.
In the Arden Hills deal, the Vikings get 170 acres around the stadium complex for future development use - possibly hotels, retail, restaurants, residential - after all, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is a billionaire developer. Wilf will pay $425 million of his own money for the stadium plan but only for this site.
"It's a business transaction and I think the point about the level of investment in Arden Hills versus any other location is that it's been calculated very specifically on that site," said Bagley. "There are 20,000 parking spaces, the 170 acres of private, potentially private development in the future which would be paid for by the team and developed by the team."
A Minnesota Senate committee has held public hearings regarding the various locations and how to fund such a project. Legislators have ruled out a sales tax, like Brown County did to pay for the renovated Lambeau Field. Instead they're focusing on revenue from expanded gambling options and professional sports ticket surcharges.
"The taxpayers of Minnesota are choking on the costs of supporting these teams," testified Ted Guth of Prior Lake, Minnesota.
We asked State
Sen. Julianne Ortman (R-34th Dist.), who heads up the committee holding the hearings about the real threat of the Vikings leaving the state.
"Well I think it would be a hardship for the Vikings to lose all these fans," said Ortman.
No deal is done for the Vikings. The city of Minneapolis is narrowing its focus on the Metrodome site, where officials say they could save at least $150 million on building a stadium, and much of the infrastructure is already in place. And yet that still is not enough for some.
"We should not spend and money on any stadiums any more the line needs to be drawn," said Arden Hills resident Tamara Wyndham.
Be sure to watch for part two of our On Special Assignment report detailing how the Green Bay Packers are influencing the decisions being made by their archrivals, the Minnesota Vikings.