There are times in sports that just make you smile and today is one of those days. Early Thursday morning, the Minnesota State Senate voted 36-30 to approve the plan to build a new $975 million stadium at the current site of the Metrodome. The Senate vote was the final step in a decade-long fight between Vikings ownership and city and state politicians. It's approval assures that the Minnesota Vikings will remain the MINNESOTA Vikings for the next 30 years.
Although fans had to endure (arguably) the worst season in franchise history this year and months of worry that the team might make like the Lakers and head to the City of Angels, their patience is now being rewarded.
First, newly crowned GM Rick Spielman steers the team through an exceptional offseason that included some nice additions in free agency at bargain prices (CB Zack Bowman, WR Jerome Simpson, LB Erin Henderson [retained]) and an impressive draft class that netted the team at least four and as many as seven starters.
Now, Vikings stadium boss Lester Bagley gets a deal in place in the final hours to get the team a new home for the 2016 season. In what was truly a great moment for Vikings fans everywhere, Bagley (after hearing the news that the Senate had passed the bill) bellowed with joy, "Let's build it!" as fans broke out into choruses of Skol Vikings.
The only thing left to do now is get Gov. Mark Dayton's signature on the bill to make it law. That won't be a problem since Dayton has been the main proponent of the new stadium since day one.
Here are some highlights of the deal:
- The stadium is scheduled to be game-ready for the 2016 Minnesota Vikings season.
- The budget is set at $975 million. Ownership will pay $477 million. The state will pay $348 million. The city of Minneapolis will pay $150 million.
- The team will be responsible for the $13 million annual operation costs.
- The design calls for a fixed-roof stadium, but if ownership would like to upgrade to a retractable roof, they can do so at their own expense.
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