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Tom Mix, Published December 26 2011

Lanning: Nothing new to report on Vikings stadium

MOORHEAD – Minnesota Vikings fans may have to curb their newfound enthusiasm about news of an agreement for a new stadium.

State Representative Morrie Lanning of Moorhead responded on Monday to reports made by NBC’s Football Night in America contributor Peter King that a stadium deal between the National Football League team and the state was close and no longer a matter of “if” but “when.”

“He (King) did not talk with me, and as far as I know there is nothing new to report,” said Lanning about King’s report that was televised Sunday evening. “My understanding is that he talked with one or two people either from the Vikings or the NFL and put the most positive spin on whatever he heard from those people.”

Lanning, who represents District 9A, also said he could see why people reading King’s report would think there would be something new to report on the stadium issue.

The Minnesota Vikings (3-12) are set to play their final game under its current lease agreement with the Metrodome on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. The team has played at the Metrodome since 1982.

The Vikings have said they will not renew their lease with the Metrodome at the end of this season if there is not a deal for a new stadium in place.

Los Angeles land developers have expressed interest in bringing football to the city and there is a belief that the Vikings would be a leading candidate to relocate if the state legislature can’t pass a stadium bill to keep the team in Minnesota.

Lanning said lawmakers are set to meet again this week to continue discussions.

“Later in the week and next week will be a critical time to set forth a proposal,” Lanning said.

Lanning also said the naming of the new Senate majority leader will be a big development in future stadium discussions. He told The Forum it was his understanding the new Senate majority leader could be decided as early as today, but also said it could be delayed if not all members of the Republican caucus are in agreement.

Currently there a several parties working on keeping the Vikings in Minnesota, including the team itself.

There are plans for a stadium to be built in Arden Hills, Minn. – located in Ramsey County – along with possible building sites being discussed in Minneapolis.

The Vikings have played in Minnesota since they entered the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1961.

The key problem surrounding the stadium has been funding.

Minnesota is in a budget crunch and many state legislators have publicly voiced concerns over giving large amounts of state funds for the construction of a stadium.

Lanning, along with State Senator Julie Rosen of Fairmont and Governor Mark Dayton, have been the key figures in the stadium debate.

“We remain hopeful and optimistic of putting a reasonable plan to submit to the legislature,” Lanning said. “We’re just not there yet.”

Readers can reach Forum copy editor

Tom Mix at (701) 451-5750