Vikings officially break ground on new stadium

A large rendering of the new Minnesota Vikings football stadium stands behind Vikings owners Mark, left, and Zygi Wilf, second from left, as they are joined by Gov. Mark Dayton, second from right, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak during one of several ceremonial dirt tosses at groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Minnesota Vikings NFL football stadium, Tuesday Dec. 3, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
  1. Listen Tim Nelson reports on the stadium groundbreaking

    Dec. 2, 2013

Hundreds of people gathered in Minneapolis Tuesday for the formal groundbreaking for the new billion dollar Vikings stadium. Construction crews were poised to begin significant excavation in the Metrodome’s parking lot.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said the day was a long time coming.

“It feels very exciting. Since the first day we were owners, we always dreamt that we would get a new stadium and a championship,” Wilf said. “So we’re finally on the way to building a new stadium. It’s an exciting day.”

Workers have been on the site for about a week already and the schedule calls for cement pouring to begin  mid-January. The Metrodome will be deflated and demolition will start about the same time.

Reginald Traylor of south Minneapolis was one of about 100 fans that made their way to the Metrodome to see history being made.

“So I’m a die hard fan, so I needed this ground-breaking to be done, so we could have a new stadium and we could feel better about coming for and supporting our team,” said Traylor.

But the groundbreaking triggered renewed criticism from opponents of the project.

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota and other conservative groups held a separate news conference to highlight what they view as a bad deal for the state.

Republican Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville predicted that funding for the public share of the stadium will fall short and taxpayers will get hit harder. Thompson, who is a GOP candidate for governor, blamed incumbent DFL Governor Mark Dayton.

“Who’s going to get stuck with it? Probably the taxpayer, and not the hated 1 percent,” said Thompson. “The regular folks in Minnesota that are getting up every Monday through Friday, going to work, working hard and earning an average living will pay for this stadium. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t have been done, and this governor should be held accountable.”

Republicans controlled the Legislature when the stadium measure was passed. Public money makes up about half of the $1 billion project and is being paid for mostly with new corporate taxes, a small amount of new gambling taxes and a one-time excise tax on cigarettes. The Dayton administration has said the funding won’t come at the expense of any existing state programs.

Dayton dismissed the cost concerns, saying state and city subsidies are worthwhile investment. He cited a maximum price guarantee the state negotiated with the builder and a $400 million mixed-use development planned just blocks from the stadium.

Voters, he added, will have a chance to weigh in on the project at the ballot box next year when he’s up for re-election.

The stadium itself is expected to cost about $763 million to build, and is expected to be under construction for the next 31 months. The Vikings will move their 2014 and 2015 seasons to TCF Bank Stadium and are expected to take the field for their first pre-season game in the new stadium in August, 2016.

Team owners said they think time will heal any hard feelings Minnesotans may still have for the deal.

MPR News reporter Tim Pugmire contributed to this report

  • Jim Herrick

    About time! Skol Vikes!

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    Dayton says it’s a great day we put people to work. It’s also the day we just put the citizens of Minnesota on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. People celebrating this are without perspective, drunk on the opiate of the masses: football. So Orwellian it’s not even funny.

  • David P.

    Michael – you are too funny! I have made over 75 trips, and yes, I have my favorites – lakes, campsites and routes. They are my favorites because I cherish the solitude and enjoy good fishing, birding and star-gazing. I am not going to tell the world my secrets!

    • Michael Olson – MPR News

      Ha, true, David. What do you think is a good lake or general route for newbies?

      • David P.

        Michael, my advice to newbies would be:
        * Consider hiring a guide or recruiting a friend that is experienced and capable.
        * Seek the advice of an outfitter – Bill Hansen @ Sawbill (above) is an excellent resource.
        * There are lots of helpful websites. Explore.
        * Know how to read a map and use a compass – there are no signposts to guide you. There are no reserved campsites, either.
        * Think safety! Even if your cell phone works (50-50 at best – a whistle is a better bet), you are at least several hours from help arriving, even on a close-in lake. If you get sick or hurt in the evening (and your cell phone works) don’t expect help until the next day. Know first aid & have a kit.
        * Keep expectations realistic (5, 10 or even 20 miles may not seem like much for a day’s travel, but it is a long, long day, especially for inexperienced campers/packers/portagers). Two or three portages are plenty for a group to manage in one day.
        * Have everyone on the same page – it is problematic when those that want to relax and read a book or just lounge about in the woods are on a trip with others that are on a mission to travel as far as possible.
        * Get an early start. Launching from the entry point after 12 noon is never a good idea.
        * Pack everything a week ahead. Load a canoe and launch at one of the lakes in town. Paddle straight across, then portage everything back to your launch site. Factor in that that was 1,000 times easier than the best portage in the BWCAW. BWCAW portages are not maintained walkways – they are uneven paths in the woods with lots of biting bugs. You will likely learn that you have packed way too much. It is better to learn that in town than halfway through your second portage.
        * Pitch your tent in the back yard a couple of times. Every tent is easy, if you know its secrets. Keep in mind that in the BWCAW, your tent space will be limited, it might be rainy or dark, and there will be biting bugs and rocky ground.
        * Get your feet wet – load and unload your canoe in shin-deep water. Rocky shorelines and canoes are not friends.
        * Don’t bring an ax or hatchet! It makes a lot of noise, weighs too much and you won’t need to use it. And it is an injury waiting to happen.
        * Same for a gun.
        * Just because the camping store sells it doesn’t mean you need it.

        I am probably guilty of too much info, and not writing what you wanted to read. For a more direct answer to your question, I would suggest one of the combination outfitters and lodges found near Ely or along the Gunflint Trail. That way you can draw on their expertise, they can coach you on packing and setting up camp and if all goes wrong, you can stay at the lodge and eat a nice meal on their deck.

        • mn

          This is great info!! Will be portaging for the first time this spring.

        • David P.

          One more thought. My attitude is my most important asset. I don’t go to conquer nature, but to experience and integrate.
          A stormy day in the BWCAW can be an amazing experience and a challenge (making camp in a pouring rain while keeping the tent and your gear dry is a creative problem solving opportunity).

  • scott44

    I like Frost Lake. But there are a few lakes that I do day hiking trips into. I enjoy getting on the Kekekabic Trail and heading in that way.

  • scott

    Gunflint Trail has more entry points then any place.

  • DC

    I love Ima Lake!

    • Linda Bucek-Loehr

      you mean youra lake…lol

  • ep2013

    That one with the great view, perfect swimming, and plenty of wildlife.
    Y’know,the one very few people know about :-)

  • rory

    A good canoe guide never reveals their secrets. But with a Seagull Lake entry point, you can do no wrong. There is so much beauty hidden in those woods, every lake is a wonder.

  • LilAsil

    I’m with David P., not sharing my favorite (the rods getting there are hard, but the payoff is so worth it!!). But for beginners, putting in at Fall Lake out of Ely (which a lot of outfitters will help haul canoe’s etc. to) is a nice way to ease it. Motors are allowed but the further you go the more quiet you get. Fall Lake is a campground as well if you’re just looking for fishing day trips.

    • David P.

      Fall Lake is a good one for 1st timer or a short trip. It offers excellent fishing, too. If you have a veteran in your life, there is Veteran’s on the Lake camp, too, with modest cabins and a campground. They even have facilities to get handi-capped folks in and out of a boat.

      • LilAsil

        Excellent fishing indeed, especially considering the motors. I’ve got a fish tale from a pass through Newton (connected to Fall) that still makes my blood pressure rise!

  • Jimmy D

    The one I’m on at the time!

  • OPinionated

    The Lake that I’m on and appreciating.