On Thursday, the legislative and executive branches of the Minnesota government finalized a deal to build a new stadium for the Vikings. Also on Thursday, the Vikings and the University of Minnesota finalized a deal to play games at TCF Bank Stadium during a portion of the time that the new venue is being built.
Technically, it’s a letter of intent that must be signed by University president Eric Kaler before it becomes official.
The letter of intent specifies that the Vikings will reimburse the university for all changes made to TCF Bank Stadium, and all expenses related to the franchise’s use of the facility. The Viking also will pay rent in the amount of $250,000 per game played at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Vikings will share a portion of “additional concessions and sponsorship revenues.”
But here’s the thing that caught our (or at least my) attention. The announcement from the University of Minnesota doesn’t specify the number of games the Vikings will play at TCF Bank Stadium, instead identifying the following range of possibilities: “The Vikings may lease TCF Bank Stadium for up to four consecutive NFL seasons anticipated to start in 2013; or, they can play at the facility for all or part of one NFL season, anticipated to be the 2015 season.”
It could be that the agreement was intended to be broad in order to protect the Vikings against unforeseen complications in the construction of the new stadium. It also could be that, in reality, there’s no practical way to build the new stadium next to the existing Metrodome with only a brief abandonment of the old Metrodome needed in order to finish the job.
The Vikings surely prefer not to have an extended stay at TCF Bank Stadium, but the ultimate goal was/is to get a stadium built. Based on the terms of the announcement from the University of Minnesota, the Vikings — and more importantly the fans who fought so hard for the new stadium — should at least prepare for the possibility that the Vikings will play at TCF Bank Stadium for “up to four consecutive NFL seasons.”