Talks About Vikings in Los Angeles Get Serious.
The subject of the Vikings heading west if they don’t get public help to build a stadium isn’t new, and came up again after Anschutz Entertainment Group President Tim Leiweke told the Orange County Register on Thursday that the Vikings were one of five NFL franchises with which he has spoken.
Leiweke added that billionaire Philip Anschutz is prepared to acquire majority ownership in a team in order to bring it to Farmers Field, the $1 billion downtown Los Angeles stadium proposed by AEG.
“I think it’s pretty much where it has been,” Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said of the team’s stadium situation. “While it’s true we have been approached by [Los Angeles area] stadium groups AEG and [Ed] Roski in the past, we think we’re in a position to get our issue resolved during the special session in Minnesota.”
Leiweke told the Register he also has talked to officials from other cities. “St. Louis, Jacksonville, not extensively, certainly Oakland, San Diego, Minnesota are still in the mix,” Leiweke said. “We’re not packing any [moving] vans right now.”
Leiweke revealed he last spoke with an NFL team “a week ago,” and the Register reported the team was believed to be the Vikings. An AEG spokesman refused to confirm if that was the case.
The Vikings’ 30-year lease at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis expires at the end of the upcoming season.
Bagley said the Vikings have not had talks with Leiweke since a meeting in late May, when the team discussed the subject of stadium operations and a potential sports entertainment complex near the Vikings’ proposed stadium in Arden Hills.
AEG officials, who run Target Center and were in town to discuss improvements at the Minneapolis arena with city and Timberwolves officials, have extensive experience managing sports complexes.
The Star Tribune quoted Leiweke in May as expressing support for the Vikings’ hopes to build a stadium in Minnesota. “We’ll stay in touch with them and see what we can do to help them long-term,” he said.
The Vikings have been working in recent months to get a 65,000-seat stadium approved and have said they will put $407 million toward the project. Ramsey County would contribute $350 million and Gov. Mark Dayton has said the state’s contribution of $300 million is “absolutely the limit” for the $1 billion project.
However, approval for the project from the Legislature during a special session is still needed.
Unfortunately this shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone of us. The Vikings have been adamant about a new stadium and have held the ability to move over the states head for years. Minnesota is playing hard ball – I personally sure hope that being stubborn doesn’t cause this state to lose its best professional sports team.