Opponents of taxpayer-funded sports stadiums -- and fans of the Minnesota Vikings -- could celebrate a small victory Wednesday. Despite fears that the Vikings would leave town if a deal for a publicly subsidized new stadium wasn't finalized, it appears they're staying put. The Vikings confirmed to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press they would let Wednesday's deadline pass to file relocation plans for next year. That means they will likely be back for another NFL season in the Metrodome.
While the decision became official Wednesday, indications grew in the last few weeks that the team would remain. Stadium plans were losing steam among legislators, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported, and the Vikings apparently didn't have any immediately viable moving options, including football-starved Los Angeles.
One state senator, Julie Rosen, had said the Vikings would leave if a plan for a new stadium isn't reached. The team, whose Metrodome lease has expired, hasn't made any specific threat to leave, though it and the NFL have spoken of the urgency to move to a new facility.
So far, several proposals floated would stick taxpayers with a hefty part of the bill for new digs -- a tough sell in a state with a projected $3.8 billion deficit this year. Some plans for a $1 billion stadium in downtown Minneapolis or in the suburbs called for hundreds of millions public dollars. The Vikings are expected to contribute about a third of the total cost.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley told the Pioneer Press that the team was making progress toward a solution, so there was no point in filing the notice with the NFL.
In other stadium news, the Santa Clara City Council on Tuesday approved a plan for a $1 billion stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. On paper, the taxpayer burden appears to take up a relatively small percentage of the cost. But a grass-roots organization called Santa Clara Plays Fair believes the $850 million loan driving the deal is too risky. The group collected enough signatures for a referendum, and the matter appears headed for court.