In Blow to L.A.'s NFL Hopes, Minnesota Vikings Land New Stadium Deal
State legislators approve a $975 million deal that keeps the franchise in place for 30 years and ends speculation that the team might be headed to L.A.
Los Angeles’ hope of landing an NFL franchise suffered a blow Thursday when the Minnesota Vikings secured a deal for a new stadium and lease that would bind the team to the Gopher State for decades.
With their lease on their outdated Metrodome having expired this past year, the Vikings — as well as the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars — were thought to be a candidate to relocate to Southern California, where there are competing plans to build stadiums in downtown Los Angeles and in the city of Industry.
Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since the Rams and Raiders departed following the 1994 season.
The Minnesota Legislature on Thursday approved a public-private plan that would put the Vikings in a new $975 million stadium ahead of the 2016 NFL season. The bill now goes to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature; he had been urging legislators to find a way to make sure the Vikings stay put.
Under the terms of the bill, the team would sign a 30-year lease on a stadium to be built in downtown Minneapolis on the site of the Metrodome, which opened in 1982.
The bill has the Vikings agreeing to pay $477 million, or $50 million more than billionaire owners Zygi and Mark Wilf had originally agreed to. The fixed-roof stadium (the team would have the option to pay for an upgrade to a retractable roof) would draw on $348 million in state money, plus $150 million from an existing city of Minneapolis hospitality tax. The state’s share is to come through expanded gambling operations.
Minnesota lost the NBA’s Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960 and the NHL’s North Stars to Dallas in 1993. The Vikings began play as an NFL expansion team in 1960.
The Jaguars in November were sold to a new owner who says he's committed to keeping to team in the small-market Florida city, making their move to Los Angeles less likely.