NFL executive admits no stadium plan could endanger Vikings

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A top NFL executive said Tuesday that league officials want the Vikings to remain in Minnesota but worry there won't be a financing plan in place to build a new stadium when the Metrodome's lease expires later this year.

Eric Grubman, the vice president who leads the NFL's business operations, privately met with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who's pushing for a special session by late November to deal with the stadium issue, though Republican legislative leaders so far haven't jumped on the bandwagon.

The Democratic governor is holding several days of meetings with different stakeholders as he pushes for team supporters to assemble a plan that could get an up or down vote by lawmakers.

"We're worried about a stalemate," Grubman said after Tuesday's meeting. "A stalemate means there's no lease, or the lease is about to expire; there's no plan for a stadium, and there's an alternative plan in another city."

Grubman said that would increase the probability of the Vikings moving somewhere else, though he wouldn't speculate just how likely.

"Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen," he said, but added the greater responsibility lies with Dayton and state lawmakers.

Grubman declined to speculate about where the Vikings could end up if they were to leave Minnesota, but he acknowledged the strong commitment by several Los Angeles business groups to land a NFL franchise there. Grubman said he realized public financing for a football stadium could be a tough sell in the current political environment and that Minnesotans would have to decide what they want for the Twin Cities area.

Dayton reaffirmed after the NFL meeting that he takes seriously the prospect of the Vikings leaving Minnesota and that failure to get a proposal through the Legislature in what's left of 2011 likely would end up delaying final resolution into 2013 or beyond.

Vikings owners and officials are pushing a $1.1 billion stadium plan at the Arden Hills site, with costs to be shared by Ramsey County, the state of Minnesota and the team. Grubman said the league could contribute as much as $150 million to the Vikings' share, pegged to be at least $400 million and possibly more if there are cost overruns.

Several potential stadium sites in Minneapolis also are in the mix, and Dayton has refused to rule them out despite the team's insistence on Arden Hills.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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