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Task force on Metrodome’s future

Published (4/29/2011)
By Nick Busse
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No one knows whether the Minnesota Vikings will get a new stadium this year, but one lawmaker wants to make sure the Metrodome has a future with or without them.

Rep. Bev Scalze (DFL-Little Canada) sponsors HF1363 that would establish a Metrodome Task Force made up of legislators and sports officials. The group would be tasked with figuring out a way to keep the facility open for public use without a professional football team as a tenant.

The House Government Operations and Elections Committee approved the bill and sent it to the House floor. There is no Senate companion.

With so much uncertainty about the Vikings’ future, Scalze said she wants to ensure hundreds of college, high school and miscellaneous other events that take place annually at the Metrodome can continue there.

“I call this a ‘just in case’ bill,” she said.

A key issue is whether a new Vikings stadium would include a roof. Vikings officials have indicated they might accept a facility without a roof, but Scalze said that would be impractical for many of the other teams and groups that use the Metrodome.

“Just in case there’s not a covered facility, we’d like to make sure there’s a task force looking at the issue,” she said.

The task force would examine ways to make the Metrodome a “self-funded public use facility,” including possible changes in use, fees, ownership and management. It would submit recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2013.

Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said prior to the roof collapse in December, there were 300 days a year that at least one event was going at the Metrodome.

“When the Twins moved out of the Metrodome, that left 81 fewer Major League Baseball games, but we filled those slots with 240 small college and high school and Legion and all those other teams,” he said.

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