The Minnesota Vikings have upped the ante in the stadium debate.
Team officials now say they are open to considering a new stadium on the site of the Metrodome, but say it will be more expensive than originally planned.
A letter released by the team today says there are $67 million in hidden costs to a plan to tear down and rebuild the Metrodome. That includes the price of playing for three seasons at University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium — where seating and other upgrades will cost $11 million — and additional parking for the dome will cost $20 million.
But the team says the plan is workable. And at $962 million, the Metrodome plan would still be the less-costly option, even with the required upgrades.
The site is one of two in Minneapolis still in serious contention to host the team. The Vikings also have a plan to build in Arden Hills.
The news comes just as neighbors of another Minneapolis site on the west side of downtown are pushing back against a proposed stadium there. A site near the Basilica of St. Mary is still under study
John Wanner has a lot riding on the Vikings — tens of millions of dollars, by his reckoning. But he's not betting on any football game.
He's worried about his family's pump business, Wanner Engineering. The factory and warehouse span almost two blocks near interstates 94 and 394. Wanner Engineering is also ground zero in the Vikings stadium debate. It sits next to the proposed site at Linden Avenue and 16th Street.
Wanner's family business is booming. Employment has grown 30 percent over the last three years. Workers build pumps for equipment for car washes to a huge new, 1,100-pound pump for oil and gas extraction.
"We are one of the world leaders in high-pressure machine tool coolant, that sprays coolant at high pressure to make a drill bit drill through metal that much faster," Wanner said. "Our pumps are in all the automakers plants. Our pumps are in Apple — was one of our major customers this year. Our pumps are in all kinds of manufacturing processes."
Some of the company's newest equipment takes six months or more just to set up, Wanner said. He doesn't think the business can survive relocating machine tools worth $30 million.
A new stadium could imperil just the kind of export friendly economic development Minnesota is hungry for, he said.
"A hundred-and-four high-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs in the state of Minnesota," Wanner said. "The jobs we want in Minnesota, we are."
And Wanner isn't the only one worried about the Vikings.
The rector of the Basilica of St. Mary, John Bauer, says a stadium on Linden Avenue would be only about a football field away from the church's back yard, just across 394. The stadium site also includes the Xcel Energy parking lot where the annual Basilica Block Party fundraiser takes place.
"We want to be good neighbors, but we have some concerns that we think need to be addressed," Bauer said.
He said the parish worries about what affects heavy construction will have on the century-old Basilica and church-owned school building right behind it. The building houses a charter school, and Bauer said the church could lose that tenant if stadium traffic spills across Interstate 394 on non-game days.
He also notes the potential conflict between Sunday services and football games.
"We're very concerned about parking, and about traffic flow. If a stadium goes in a block-and-a-half away, people are going to want to park close to the door," Bauer said. "Our parking will be severely impacted by that. Along with parking, though, is the traffic flow — we can't imagine how they're going to route traffic around this place, and that that won't have an impact on our building."
Bauer outlined his concerns in a letter sent to the city, but is unsure if it will make any difference.
However, the city itself may have issues with the Linden Avenue site. The Currie Avenue public works facility on the north side of the site is also the hub for the city's traffic control system, where all the stoplights and signals can be monitored and controlled.
The city is unsure if it is practical or even necessary to relocate the network center, spokesman John Stiles said.
"We don't know yet where a Vikings stadium may land, and it's certainly too soon to know whether any part or all of the Currie facility would be taken by a new stadium, or whether we would be able to keep it there," Stiles said.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley confirms that the team is studying Linden Avenue closely, but says the team has good reason to prefer the deal it struck in May with Ramsey County for a site in Arden Hills.
"Again, all of the answers have been derived in Arden Hills," Bagley said. "There's some open issues in Minneapolis."
And now, there are fewer than 48 hours to solve them before a 5 p.m. Jan. 12 deadline set by Gov. Mark Dayton for stadium proposals to be submitted for consideration.