Minnesota Vikings president Mark Wilf said Friday that he still thinks there's time this year to cut a deal with lawmakers to replace the Metrodome.
"We're confident that we can reach a resolution this year," Wilf told the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon in Oakdale, Minn. "We're very encouraged with the legislative leadership, the involvement of the governor, our business and labor leaders. We understand and respect the other challenges facing the state, but we believe we can address these priority issues at the same time we resolve the stadium issue."
Wilf declined to offer any specifics on revenue to pay for the project, other than the Vikings owners' standing offer to pay for one-third of the cost of an open-air stadium to replace the Metrodome. That would amount to about $200 million.
During a question-and-answer session following his remarks, Wilf said he and fellow owners would be happy to have a roofed stadium, even one with a fixed roof like the Metrodome, but that Minnesotans would have to pay for it themselves.
Wilf's remarks come with less than a month left in a contentious legislative session, and as the state's political parties head into their nominating conventions for this year's gubernatorial election.
Lawmakers have reportedly been meeting with the team owners outside of the Capitol, but neither the team nor lawmakers have offered any specifics for a deal.
After his comments, St. Paul Port Authority president Louis Jambois asked Wilf if the Vikings would be willing to add a new stadium for the St. Paul Saints and a practice facility for the Minnesota Wild to the football package, possibly to garner support from lawmakers in the east metro area for a Vikings deal.
Wilf wouldn't commit to any additions to a stadium deal, but said the Vikings had an "open mind" about what they'd be willing to include in a stadium bill.
Wilf also declined to commit to a proposal to dedicate revenue from a new state-sponsored horse track-based casino as a way to pay off the bonds for a new stadium.
Susan Kimberly, interim president of the St. Paul chamber, said it was too early to gauge the business community's response to the Viking's last-minute efforts to get a stadium bill this year.
"We know there's no free lunch," she said, acknowledging that the business community will likely have to contribute in some way to the cost of a new stadium.
But, Kimberly said, there's nothing to support or oppose without a detailed plan, including revenue sources, at the Capitol.