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Dave LeGarde: Like it or not, the Vikings will get their stadium

The debates have raged for years: Should we build it? What site works best? Who's going to foot the bill? We've fought about stadiums and arenas in this state for as long as I can remember, and the ultimate result has always been the same.

The debates have raged for years: Should we build it? What site works best? Who's going to foot the bill? We've fought about stadiums and arenas in this state for as long as I can remember, and the ultimate result has always been the same.

The Minnesota Vikings will get their new facility. The only question is when it will all come to pass. Owner Zygi Wilf will not be paying for it by himself, and our state will continue to be consumed with endless debate about priorities and how money should be spent.

I'm old enough to remember when the Metrodome was built, and the acrimony involved in the process. We were told an indoor venue was a necessity for our baseball and football teams to compete, which to some extent was true. The Twins certainly used the artificial elements to the utmost advantage, winning numerous titles beneath that odd teflon sky.

The Vikings, though quite successful, have never been fortunate enough to secure a Super Bowl berth since their move to the Metrodome. They do, however, thrive at the gate thanks to a legion of fans consistently filling the place.

Various polls indicate most Minnesotans are against public funding for a new pro football palace, with the usual arguments coming to the forefront. Certainly there should be legitimate concern about constructing a nearly billion-dollar venue, with taxpayer help, at a time when our economy is still in disarray.

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There's also the issue of principle, and the idea of the public providing exorbitant sums to satisfy the demands of wealthy players and owners. For those who don't follow sports or entertainment closely, this must seem incredibly backward.

The Viking organization keeps pressing on, citing recent new stadiums for the Twins and the University of Minnesota built with tax contributions from the public. In some ways, it's a valid contention, as the Vikings, certainly the state's most popular sports franchise, want the same type of assistance received by the others.

Wilf continues to up the ante, becoming more aggressive in threats to move the team elsewhere and increasing pressure on legislators for their support. With a lease at the Metrodome set to expire at the end of the 2011 season, he wants a deal in place soon.

As a fan, I enjoy the amenities that come with new stadiums. The two in Minneapolis are state-of-the-art and rival any in the country. They both offer comfort levels we're not accustomed to and should attract visitors in droves for years to come.

Target Field is a baseball paradise, with sightlines and legroom far beyond what was ever available at the Metrodome.

Access to and from the area, a major concern for anyone heading to a game, is easy if planned right. I encountered no delays while attending one of the exhibitions last week, even when parked in the closest ramp.

TCF Bank Stadium, the new home of the Gophers, is among the very best in college football. The entire experience, with its charged atmosphere, makes one wonder why the games left campus to play indoors.

That horrendous decision set the program back a quarter century, and brought apathy to a once-proud tradition.

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It may not happen this year, but eventually the Vikings will win the battle for some sort of public funding. We have a history in this state of building such things for those who are persistent enough. The Minnesota Wild, Bemidji State University, the DECC and even the Heritage Center have all secured money for new hockey arenas in the fairly recent past.

The pieces are in place for a facility at the Metrodome site, with the team playing its home games at TCF Bank Stadium until its completion. It will be an inconvenience to a lot of Viking fans, many of whom will not be able to land tickets in the smaller venue, but in the end it will be worth their while.

My hope, which I'm not counting on, is that the Vikings will build an outdoor stadium on par with the NFL's best.

What I think we'll see instead is a larger, considerably more expensive, indoor football studio -- eerily similar to the current one.

Budgeteer sports columnist Dave LeGarde is the Duluth Central basketball coach and a sports aficionado. Contact him at dlegarde@charter.net .

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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