Lester Bagley, the Minnesota Vikings' point man for a new stadium, was honored Tuesday night, July 10, as part of the Leaders in Public Policy 2012 program. Along with Gov. Mark Dayton and the two stadium bill authors in the Legislature, Bagley received the Public Policy Achievement (Sports) award for the work he did in getting Legislative approval for a new Vikings stadium. He's still working on stadium issues.
I talked to Bagley on Wednesday about the status of the. new facility.
Q. What is the latest on the stadium?
A. Here's exactly where we are, and some of it is new: The Vikings organization has been working hard to assemble our team. That's a legal team that has experience on significant stadium development deals. We think we need local legal expertise and national legal expertise. We're working on a finance team. We have to finance $477 million. We're also working on the construction and design side to hire a project manager who will be a day-to-day person on the job, as well as potentially (hire) an owners' representative. The project manager will be an individual. The owners' rep will be a firm. We're doing a lot of interviews and analysis of our needs. We're trying to be patient as the stadium authority gets organized. They had their first meeting. Their second meeting is today.
Q. Any additions or subtractions the team would like to see since the stadium became a done deal?
A. There's clearly going to be a need to make sure it's a people's stadium and the public is represented. It has to be programmed for baseball -- college, amateur and high school -- as well as soccer and basketball. All those program elements drive costs. We need to make sure this facility works for our fans and our organization. We have to make sure we get everything with a $975 million budget. It's a fixed-roof facility, but if we can cut costs, manage costs, our goal is to have a retractable feature (such as a portion of the roof that can be opened to view downtown). Some retractable feature, we think, is important. That's the one thing we're working on.
Q. Has it been decided whether or not to move the offices or practice facilities to the new stadium or surrounding area?
A. Right now, the preliminary design at the Metrodome site does not include a training facility. There's not enough room. At the same time, our facility in Eden Prairie has challenges. Something needs to be done to address the shortfalls at Winter Park. Now that we have the stadium issue resolved, I think, in due time, the Wilfs and Vikings will turn attention to our training facility. Either we try to do something on site or we have to consider another location. We're very early in the analysis other than the conclusion something needs to be done.
Q. How are you filling the void of not having to try to get a stadium?
A. I take a step back from the point on the advocacy effort. Now I'm a team member. We're trying to refocus the part of my job I also was hired to do, which is oversee public relations, communications and community relations. There is a strong appetite for information about stadium development. We're putting together communications to keep everybody -- our fans, our sponsors -- informed.
Q. Is there something you're pushing to see in the new stadium?
A. We want to see a signature facility that is unique to this market. We may not know what that is just yet. We may need some feedback from designers and architects to get some concepts.
Q. A non-stadium question: Does the team feel any pressure to improve the roster after what the Wild did?
A. We love the Wild. Many of us are season-ticket holders. We're excited about the Wild. We have a vision led by Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier and ownership to make sure we're on our own path.