Engineers, finance experts and stadium negotiators are trying to figure out if they can fit almost two stadiums where the Metrodome now stands.
Planners are sketching out the details for yet another site for a downtown Minneapolis Vikings stadium. The proposal would put the new stadium in the Metrodome parking lot and could mean the Vikings would have to play few, if any, games at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank stadium.
The plan could allow the Vikings to play in the existing facility while a new one is under construction right outside, possibly taking over the street between the Metrodome and Interstate 35W.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission is leading the study of the newest option -- now the fifth potential configuration of a downtown stadium, said commission chairman Ted Mondale.
"What we're looking at now is pushing back over 11th Avenue, further back, so that we would have two-thirds, three-fourths of the stadium done before you take the Dome down," Mondale said.
It's a variation on a previous plan, which would have spilled over onto an adjacent property. That could have involved condemning and relocating a major telecommunications hub, just east of the Metrodome.
The new plan saves that building and is more affordable, Mondale said.
"You know, we're looking to see if there's a way that we wouldn't have to go to TCF Bank field, for the team, or a limited amount of time, which would allow us to put capital time and effort that would go into TCF Bank Stadium into the future home of the Vikings, which we all think makes a lot of sense," he said.
The proposal could have the team in a new facility by 2016, with only a handful of home games out of downtown.
But this latest Metrodome plan still has problems.
It may mean a major change in the connection between downtown with the University of Minnesota's West Bank. Fourth Street would have to be reconfigured where it runs just north of the Metrodome. From there, it heads below grade and heads east under the Hiawatha light rail tracks and 35W.
That road work is a key unknown, Mondale said.
"It seems to show promise, but until you get the engineers saying we're going to do this and it's going to cost this, and here's how it would work and this is the time frame... The question is, 'How much would this cost?'" he said. "If its $120 million more, it doesn't work."
The Vikings themselves could also be a road block. The team already has a handshake deal to build a new stadium in Arden Hills, but Gov. Mark Dayton ruled out that site last month, as well as two others along Interstate 94 on the western edge of downtown. Dayton said they're not feasible in the current legislature.
The team has agreed to look at other options, but said team owners aren't convinced this latest plan is affordable.
Team vice president Lester Bagley said they're concerned with the electrical substation just north of the 5th Street freeway entrance. It would potentially have to be moved or buried underground to make room for the new stadium.
City and stadium consultants think it's doable, Bagley said.
"They're optimistic about it," he said. "We're looking at it and our real estate people are not quite there yet."
Keeping the team downtown could avoid nearly $50 million in extra team costs to relocate NFL games to the University, Bagley said.
"It would either limit or eliminate our seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, and there's some major challenges there," he said. "They're still working on that. I don't think there's an answer yet."
The entire deal is also contingent on approval by lawmakers.
The state is expected to put up nearly one-third of the money for a new field, and stadium bill sponsor Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, says it's very late in the game to be making big changes in stadium sites.
"We're getting down to the wire now, and if we don't hear something in the next couple of weeks, it's going to be very difficult to get this whole thing processed yet this legislative session," he said.
The Sports Facilities Commission and other planners hope to release details on the latest plan by Tuesday.
Location of proposed stadium: