MINNEAPOLIS — Commissioner Roger Goodell is in Minnesota to hear the latest on the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, knowing the team is positioning itself for a Super Bowl in the near future.
Goodell was present for Minnesota’s home game Sunday afternoon against the Tennessee Titans and took time to meet with fans and reporters. Invited a couple of months ago to meet with area business leaders, Goodell is looking forward to hearing some of the details of the plans for the new $975 million stadium for the Vikings, which earned approval from the state and city of Minneapolis in May.
One of those plans, at least where Minnesota is concerned, is hosting a Super Bowl in the new building. The Vikings and the new stadium authority have expressed interest, the first step in trying to secure the rights to the premier event.
“I understand they’ve indicated an interest in maybe doing it around ’18 or ’19. And so they’ll get in the rotation,” Goodell said. “We still have a couple of years before we even get to considering them. So it’ll be down the road, which is probably good because I think you want to wait and get the stadium up and running.”
Goodell said the league won’t shy away from hosting the Super Bowl in a cold-weather city, noting the recent examples of Indianapolis and New York, both with new stadiums.
“No, plus this is a dome,” Goodell said of Minnesota’s planned fixed-roof stadium. “As you know, we’ll be in New York next year. We were in Indianapolis last year, so there’s really no informal rotation. It’s something you consider as part of the general rotation.”
The Vikings are hoping to add a retractable element feature, but it will be dependent on costs as the team tries to stay within the $975 million figure.
The team will contribute $477 million in construction costs as well as $13 million annually for operations. The Vikings will try to secure a loan from the NFL and also sell stadium naming rights. The state’s portion of $348 million is projected to come from expanded gambling, including the selling of electronic pull-tabs. The city of Minneapolis is adding $150 million in up-front costs and $159 million in operating costs over the next 30 years, with the Vikings signing a new 30-year lease.
Goodell said the financing from the NFL, which could be as much as $200 million, will be in discussion soon.
“We have a G4 program that we’ve already awarded one of those to the San Francisco 49ers,” Goodell said. “At the right time, when the financing is in place, we’ll be addressing that with our finance committee, our stadium committee and the full membership. So we’ll probably be doing that in the next several months.”
Ground-breaking is expected in 2013 with the hope the Vikings will begin play in their new stadium in 2016. Construction will begin while the team plays in the Metrodome with the Vikings expected to be displaced for at least one season. The team agreed to a plan with the University of Minnesota to play one season at TCF Bank Stadium.
The final approval of the bill didn’t come without a bit of Goodell’s influence earlier this summer, when he came to town to talk with legislators after the bill had appeared to be dying.
“You know, there was tremendous leadership both in the public sector and the private sector,” Goodell said. I think they just needed to seize the moment, and they did. They needed to say, ‘This is the time. This is when we want to do it.’ And not allow any other influences from outside. They could control it at that point in time and they needed to control it, and they did. My hats off for doing that.”
Goodell credited the Vikings’ ownership, the Wilf family, for their persistence and continued pursuit of a stadium solution in Minnesota. He said he understands the tough business aspect of stadium financing. But after years of failed attempts in Minnesota, he said the Vikings situation wasn’t unlike other teams and cities that have built new stadiums.
“They were all difficult in their own ways and they’re all different,” Goodell said. “We just have to understand, when you’re putting a stadium together that’s this complex, you have to really work with the community leaders. And it has to work for them and it has to work for the team. Sometimes that’s complex, sometimes there are a lot of other factors that go into the timing, and you just have to be patient with it and get the best solution. And this was the time, last May was the time and they stepped up and got it done. That’s great for this community and its great for the NFL because the Vikings are going to be here for a very long time.”