If the Minnesota Vikings decide to build their new stadium at the Metrodome site, the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium would likely be the team’s new home for the next three seasons.
TCF Bank Stadium would need $11 million in upgrades in order to meet NFL standards, according to a letter sent to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson from the Vikings. The letter said that the upgrades would benefit the University on a long-term basis.
The city of Minneapolis has marked the Metrodome as its preferred site because it costs less than the alternatives.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton discussed merits and downsides to each stadium proposal. Traffic congestion and parking would be problematic if the Vikings play at TCF Bank Stadium, he said.
Dayton signaled interest in the proposed Linden Avenue site and its ability to spur economic development.
“The site offers significant advantages over the Metrodome, particularly its proximity to the Target Center, Target Field, downtown hotels, restaurants, etc.” Dayton said in a statement.
But Dayton made it clear that no plan is perfect.
“Regrettably, there is not yet a stadium proposal with a complete and sufficient financial plan … and no site sponsor has adequately resolved the major unanswered questions, in order to merit the approval to proceed.”
As of last Thursday, Dayton received multiple site proposals to build a new Vikings stadium. The Vikings have remained adamant that their preferred site is in Arden Hills.
Problems with TCF Bank Stadium
In December 2010, the Vikings played one game against the Chicago Bears in TCF Bank Stadium after the Metrodome roof collapsed in a snowstorm.
According to the letter, the stadium’s 50,000 seats are significantly less than at the Metrodome and other NFL facilities, meaning the Vikings will lose out on $37 million from attendees over three years.
“We have not sat down with the Vikings to discuss anything yet,” said Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer. “The University of Minnesota will play its part so the Vikings can play at TCF if the Metrodome site is chosen.”
Pfutzenreuter said the Vikings have not shared what would be included in the $11 million of necessary upgrades, but that the logistics of the deal would not be simple.
Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said on his Twitter account that upgrades would include installing heating technology under the field.
“It’s an evolving issue and we need to make sure the schedules are worked out so it does not interfere or disrupt students and classes if there were Monday or Thursday night games,” Pfutzenreuter said.
Along with lost revenue and upgrades to TCF Bank Stadium, additional parking would need to be built at the new Metrodome site. Those costs would total $67 million, according to the Vikings, bringing the total cost of the Metrodome site to $962 million.
The Vikings also expressed concerns about possible challenges for University neighborhoods if the team plays at TCF Bank Stadium.
Prospect Park resident Florence Littman said there are already problems during Gopher games at TCF Bank Stadium.
“People having their driveways blocked, garbage and an increase in traffic are already problems when games are going on,” Littman said.
If the Vikings played at TCF Bank Stadium, Littman guessed that more bars would pop up in Stadium Village, attracting a “certain sort of people.”
Local businesses like Raising Cane’s in Stadium Village are enthusiastic about the possibility of the Vikings playing in the area.
“Game days are already our biggest business days, and if the Vikings played at TCF, it would be phenomenal for business,” said Kory Blaschko, general manager at Raising Cane’s.
Blaschko said last year’s game boosted business, but weather conditions kept some people away.
“If the Vikings do play at TCF, after three or four games, people will hopefully become more accustomed to the area and local businesses,” he said.