The long and winding road to a new stadium

11:05 PM, Dec 3, 2013   |    comments
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HKS Vikings stadium design

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- It was a festive day for folks who supported the Minnesota Vikings in their quest for a new football stadium. Minutes before the groundbreaking, the NFL's MVP, Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson, said "it's a dream for me."

Vikings Super Fan Larry Spooner did have one small complaint. "The only thing that saddens me is I'm so damn old right now," he said with a smile. Spooner says he was 36 years old when he started supporting the team's quest for a new stadium. He's 53 now, and estimates he's taken 67 vacation days to attend hearings and rallies over the years. "Are you kidding me? This is Christmas early right now for all Vikings fans," he said.

So how did we arrive at the moment where purple hard-hat wearing officials would dig gold-plated shovels into the dirt just outside the Metrodome? We can't go through it all, but KARE 11 spent some time digging up the highlights.

Back in 2002, Vikings Owner Red McCombs spent considerable time in and around Blaine, looking for a place to put a stadium. By 2005, Zygi Wilf owned the team, and he was also in Anoka County trying to put together a deal for a stadium built with local, state, and team revenues. "We intend to create a Vikings legacy," Wilf told reporters.

By 2011, it was looking like the old Arden Hills Ammunition Plant in Ramsey County was going to be the new home for the team. "This is absolutely the right choice," Wilf said after ruling out a Minneapolis proposal.

"So much work," Amanda Oleson said. Oleson was part of a large Vikings fan group called Savethevikes.org, which spent considerable time bringing fans together and giving them a voice in the quest for a new stadium. "It was a roller coaster for sure. The site selection was one of those things that definitely kept me up at night," she remarked.

Arden Hills lost its designation as the "preferred site." In late 2011 and early 2012, there was some speculation about a stadium in Los Angeles and there was even a last-minute pitch made by the Mayor of Shakopee. And then, there were 3 options put back on the table within the confines of Downtown Minneapolis.

"They were form shopping," Hamline Political Science Professor David Schultz said about the Vikings, as they searched for a "local partner." "They were clearly dialing for dollars or knocking for dollars at this point. I always knew it was going to happen, the question was when and what circumstances," he added.

By April of 2012, circumstances dictated a visit from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He met with the Governor behind closed doors. A month later, Governor Dayton signed the stadium bill ensuring the state's share of paying for the stadium. Soon after, the Minneapolis City Council took a vote, narrowly approving a plan for the city's share.

"It's been a bumpy road for sure, to get to today," Vikings VP of Stadium Development Lester Bagley told KARE 11 prior to the groundbreaking. Bagley has spent more than a dozen years attending hundreds of governmental meetings and hearings to get to that moment where the gold shovels grabbed the golden brown dirt.

"We'd march up the hill (at the Capitol) every year and most years they'd throw us back down and we'd dust ourselves off and go back and try it again, knowing it was the right thing to do," Bagley concluded.

Now all Bagley has to do is wait 3 more years for the stadium's grand opening.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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