Dayton was firm about the fate of one site: The Vikings' previously preferred site at Arden Hills, he said, "is not financially viable." The Vikings, he said, could choose to contribute $700 million to the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium -- something the Vikings immediately said would not be possible.
The Vikings could fork over that much money if they chose to, but they won't, mostly because the league won't let them. The question is, does the Linden Avenue site actually work? Lester Bagley said this:
Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley called the Linden Avenue site "intriguing," and said: "It's got the ability to share game-day experience with [the] Twins and Target Center. If Arden Hills is not achievable, we will work with state leaders and the city of Minneapolis to try to negotiate an agreement."
He also said this, though:
Bagley, the team's vice president for stadium development, stopped short of a full embrace. "We are not there yet," he said. "We have to study this."A few thoughts:
- It's worth remembering that a large part of the costs associated with the Arden Hills project concerned the improvement of local roads. Those projects are going to happen regardless of whether or not a stadium is built on the site; the only real change is that an additional 35W interchange at County Road H2 to direct traffic to a stadium is now out. It was always a curious thing that these costs were included in the project.
- The state will still need to deal with the cleanup and remediation costs of the Arden Hills site. That hasn't changed, although the costs will now get transferred to another place on the ledger.
- The only real advantage I see to the Linden Avenue site is that it would allow the Vikings to stay in the Dome during construction.
- There's no real funding available for the Linden Avenue site, either. R. T. Rybak doesn't have it and it would take a change to the Minneapolis city charter to make it happen.
- The Basilica of St. Mary would have a lot of trouble if the stadium goes on that site. Mary Jo Copeland's Sharing and Caring Hands facility would also get displaced. Perhaps Archbishop Nienstedt will be too busy dealing with other matters, but running afoul of the Archdiocese isn't wise.
- When the Vikings are done "studying" the issue, they may decide that Linden Avenue won't work. What then?
I don't know if the Arden Hills site is dead, or merely mostly dead. But there are larger questions involved and we are no closer to resolving them after yesterday than we were before.