EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- The campus site eyed by the University of Minnesota for a shared football stadium with the Minnesota Vikings doesn't work for the NFL club because it's too small, a conclusion that stalls both parties' push for a new place to play.
While each side was disappointed and neither ruled out the possibility of venturing out on their own for a new facility, both expressed willingness to continue to work together -- an approach strongly suggested by most lawmakers.
"There's no way the state should be talking about building three stadiums," said Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, referring to funding the Minnesota Twins are also seeking for a new ballpark.
Echoing Kelley's comments, Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty said, "We're not going to allow this to consume the legislative session. We've got bigger issues than this. The budget deficit is job one, two and three."
Because the Vikings and Gophers have a lease at the Metrodome through 2011, sports talk in the next session -- which begins in January -- will start with the Twins.
"It's a matter of priorities," said Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar. "It's the budget first. And then we're going to have to figure out the Twins ballpark first."
Vikings executive vice president Mike Kelly sent a letter to university officials on Monday that outlined the team's problems with the proposed 32-acre location at University Avenue and across Oak Street from Mariucci Arena where the Golden Gopher men's hockey team plays.
Williams Arena, home of the men's and women's basketball teams, is also right across the road from the site, which currently serves as a parking lot.
"It was too difficult to manage," Vikings owner Red McCombs said from his San Antonio office. "Their needs are a little different. We just have to work hard to get it right."
McCombs wouldn't say whether this delay has an affect on his decision to put the team up for sale.
"Those are options we're still exploring," he said.
In his letter, Kelly highlighted five hang-ups with the site:
-- Traffic congestion would force half the fans attending a Vikings game to be bussed from another location.
-- The site would only provide 2,700 parking spaces and not allow enough room to accommodate tailgaters.
-- Uncertainties of the environmental impact, plus known soil and on-site groundwater contamination, could add up to three years and millions of dollars to the construction process.
-- Conflicts with the university's mission about the stadium's use on non-game days.
-- Significant opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods as well as faculty and students.
The Vikings view the 20-year-old Metrodome as inadequate because it doesn't provide enough revenue, and the university wants to bring football back to campus. Not only to create more of a game-day atmosphere but to generate more interest in and support for a program that's been to only five bowl games (not including a likely invitation this year) since 1963.
Talks began in December 2000, and the two sides were given $500,000 by the Legislature in May (as part of a stadium funding bill for the Twins) to study the site.
The analysis was completed over the weekend.
"It does seem a little odd to me that now a year-and-a-half or two years after the fact, they've concluded that the site is too small," Pawlenty said. "It seems like that would have been one of the first things they looked at."
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