Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By BRIAN HALL  |  Last updated 12/3/13
MINNEAPOLIS -- Inside the Metrodome, the season hasn't gonethe Minnesota Vikings' way. On Tuesday, just outside the east entrance of the21-year-old building, the team held the biggest moment of its season.Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were joined by politicaland business leaders, along with several fans, for a ceremonial groundbreakingfor the team's new billion-dollar stadium, set to be built on the currentfootprint of the Metrodome.As the Wilfs, Governor Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T.Rybak and others donned purple construction helmets and used gold shovels todig into fresh dirt in the east Metrodome parking lot, construction had alreadybegun not far away for the new stadium, which is set to open in time for the2016 season."I feel a little bit like coach (Leslie) Frazier musthave felt after the game on Sunday," Dayton told a group of supporters ina ceremony Monday. "I can't believe it's over and I can't believe wewon."The stadium has been 10 years in the making as the team andthe state negotiated to replace the outdated Metrodome. Finally, in May 2012,Dayton signed the bill into law approving the 957 million stadium costs."Today's the day that a lot of Minnesotans start to goto work," Dayton said Tuesday. "That's the exciting thing about thisproject. Today is breaking ground and people all over this metropolitan areawho have been sitting on the bench are going to be working over the next coupleof years thanks to this project."Construction on the project is expected to require 4.5million total work hours and include up to 1,127 workers on site at the peak ofthe project. The construction sitecovers 1.7 million gross square feet for the new stadium.The 64,000-seat stadium will include 9,000 club seats, 115suites and seven levels with a 360-degree view of the field. Two iconicfeatures will be a set of five large, glass, pivoting doors and a translucentroof."Camden Yards (and) Coors Field did for baseball whatthis stadium will do for football," Rybak said. "No footballexperience in the United States of America is woven into the urban fabric untilthis one. This will transform the way we look at these facilities."The team's previous owner had started the push for a newstadium and the Wilfs bought the Vikings in 2005 for 600 million and continuednegotiations with political leaders."It's a great milestone," Mark Wilf said Monday."I wouldn't call it relief as much as excitement for our fans and for thepublic at large and for the Minnesota Vikings. The great history we have here,and this cements our future for generations to come, so it's really an excitingday."The Vikings, in the midst of a 3-8-1 season, are in theirfinal season at the Metrodome, which they have played in since 1982.Construction has begun, but the bulk of the work will comein 2014 after the Vikings' season is over. The team is scheduled to play at theUniversity of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium on campus for two seasons whileconstruction continues."Since we became owners, it was always our intent to,first bring a championship and build a new stadium," Zygi Wilf said."Well, we're embarking on both and today is a great day for all the peopleof Minnesota and all our fans across the country."The city has already been chosen as a finalist to host theSuper Bowl in 2018 in the new stadium, and Mark Wilf said the stadium will playa role in fielding a team capable of reaching the Super Bowl."I think it's going to help us attract players andallow us to be competitive for decades to come and give us that opportunity toget that championship and that's ultimately our goal," Mark Wilf said."That's what we're working on. Yes, that is our goal and we're workinghard every day. We hope to get that championship here very soon."On Nov. 22, the Vikings, the Stadium Authority and MortensonConstruction agreed to the maximum construction costs of 763 million, whilethe Wilf family committed up to an additional 41.4 million in privatecontribution."They've got a not-too-exceed cost now for the buildingof it, to the credit of the Authority and Mortenson and the Vikings have put inan additional 41 million," Dayton said. "The budget is set and Ithink it will be on time and on budget."Although the bill has been signed into law and constructionhas begun, some still protest the use of public funds for the stadium. As partof the original 975 million total, the Vikings were responsible for 477million before adding in the additional 41.4 million last month."It's easy to demagogue a project of this size andscale, but there are going to be thousands of Minnesotans working on thisproject, on the Ryan project next to it, that would not be working withoutthese initiatives," Dayton said. "So, the naysayers can just go saynay."Dayton, Rybak and other political and business leadersbelieve the stadium will be the centerpiece to a revitalization of the area,including an already under-discussion plan for a 400 million project,according to Dayton."We'll go from having a dome stadium that's antiquated,doesn't have any tenant or revenue generation and nothing around it exceptparking lots and empty space, to go through a transformation of this part ofMinneapolis," Dayton said. "That's what this is about. This is aneconomic revitalization project. It's a major jobs project and that's whatmakes it worth the public commitment."Rybak said: "When you look at this from the sky, theMetrodome was a spaceship and everybody ran because they were afraid of the aliens.We're going to build the most beautiful spaceship that will land and we'll bereally curious about those guys and everyone will want to come and get into it.It's a huge difference for what we're doing for the city." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter
PLAYERS: Zygi Wilf
TEAMS: Minnesota Vikings
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