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January 21, 2011
MN stadium chief: Metrodome roof fix could take six months
When new Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton selected former state senator Ted Mondale (son of that other Mondale) to head up the state's stadium commission last week, it was widely seen as good news for the Vikings' stadium push. And Mondale did nothing to dispel that impression when he was sworn in yesterday, immediately declared that he intends to get a stadium built, and oh, by the way, the Metrodome roof might not be ready for the 2011 preseason.
"I can't tell you whether it will or it won't [be ready]," Mondale told reporters. "There's a couple of factors involved."
Read further, and you'll see that Mondale actually said that if the roof has to be replaced, it could take up to six months, which would mean the Metrodome would barely be ready in time for exhibition games next August. If the Vikings open at home, that is. And if there even are any exhibition games.
Still, Mondale took the opportunity to publicly raise the threat that the Vikings might be homeless to start what the St. Paul Pioneer Press insisted on calling "their final season in the Metrodome." (Really, Pioneer Press? You think either a new stadium will get built in 18 months, or the team will move out of town?) For good measure, Mondale added: "The NFL cannot bring 60,000 people into an arena with the threat of death and mayhem. The roof cannot come down during a game. So the interest of the commission and NFL and Vikings are all aligned — public safety has to be the top priority."
If you're Zygi Wilf, the image of "death and mayhem" being the alternative to a new stadium has to be music to your ears. Even if the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has long been carrying water for Minnesota's pro sports teams, albeit not always that effectively. Right now, the only thing that matters is the tenor of stadium talks when they start in the state legislature in the next few weeks — and "the old stadium is broken, we can't make it go" is way better background music than "how are we going to pay for this thing again"?