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Watching with interest

January 21st, 2009 – 12:53 PM by Judd Zulgad

While Vikings officials are hoping the team’s stadium issue will be addressed in the upcoming legislative session, they are keeping a close eye on what is transpiring in California these days.

On Tuesday, voters in the small town of Industry, Calif., approved a bond measure that would provide $150 million for infrastructure improvements at a 600-acre site where a stadium has been proposed to try to get an NFL team. Voters passed the measure 60-1, meaning it’s now up to city officials to certify the plan.

Billionaire developer Ed Roski wants to build a privately-financed $800 million stadium if an NFL team agrees to move to Industry, which is about 15 miles east of Los Angeles. The Vikings, whose Metrodome lease expires after the 2011 season, have been one of the teams mentioned as potential candidates for relocation. The stadium in Industry, by the way, would open in 2012.

“The Vikings are watching these developments with interest,” said Lester Bagley, the team’s vice president of public affairs and stadium development. “But, we are currently focused on achieving a workable stadium plan to keep the Vikings here in Minnesota.”

Getting a stadium approved in the upcoming session isn’t going to be easy given the economic issues this state is facing. Nonetheless, the Vikings continue to push forward with their plans to have a new venue in downtown Minneapolis on the site where the Metrodome sits. The Vikings, who are last in the league in revenue, were approached by Roski last summer but owner Zygi Wilf turned down Roski’s overturnes to discuss moving the Vikings to Los Angeles.

Wilf said last July that he wasn’t “considering moving [the team]” and that “I’m not considering selling it.” But that likely was said with the assumption that something would happen in St. Paul this year.

The Vikings and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission are awaiting the designs that are being drawn up for the potential downtown stadium. That project should be done in the next 30 to 60 days. Wilf has pledged to fund one-third of the cost of an open-air stadium, although it’s a near certainty that if the state does approve a stadium it will be with a roof.

Previous estimates were that a Vikings stadium could be built for an estimated $954 million and Wilf had said that the ownership group would contribute $250 million. The designs being worked on should give the Vikings and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission a more definite price on the total cost of the project.

Update: This actually is related to the below note about special team coordinator Paul Ferraro and the report the Rams have asked permission to speak to him about a coaching job. Tim Yotter of Viking Update is in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl and was able to catch up with Vikings coach Brad Childress today. Not surprisingly, Childress offered up a no comment on the Ferraro situation. Here is the item.

 

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