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Patrick Springer, Published December 16 2010

Pawlenty: State can’t lose Vikings

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty predicts the Vikings will get a new football stadium – eventually.

“We can’t lose the Vikings,” Pawlenty told The Forum editorial board Wednesday, adding that he didn’t view that as an immediate risk.

The Vikings have long been unhappy with the Metrodome, completed in 1982, but the gripes took on a fresh urgency when the roof collapsed earlier this week after a snowstorm.

But Minnesota is facing a frigid budgetary climate, with a projected state deficit of more than $6 billion, so a new stadium built with public financing will take time, Pawlenty said.

Fortunately, he added, the team’s owner wants to stay in Minnesota. Also, because the Vikings play in a lucrative market, Pawlenty doubts that the NFL favors a relocation.

To move the ball downfield, the Vikings and their supporters must find a local partner and a viable proposal, Pawlenty said.

The Minnesota Twins, he noted, found a viable partner in Hennepin County in order to build their new baseball stadium, but he thinks it’s unlikely the county would want to “double down” by assuming a big funding role in a new Vikings arena.

“They’re going to have to be creative,” Pawlenty said of the Vikings.

And given the austerity that will be necessary with a budget strained by the ongoing slow economy, the governor doubts that the Republicans who will control the Minnesota Legislature will be in a mood to commit significant state dollars this session.

“That’s a reality they have to confront,” Pawlenty said.

That political football, in any event, will be passed to Democrat Gov.-elect Mark Dayton, who will take office Jan. 3.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522