Sports Facilities Commission announces 8-city tour

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission &8212; which runs the Metrodome &8212; on Tuesday announced an eight-city tour aimed at fostering a statewide discussion on how to keep professional football and a multi-use public stadium for Minnesotans.

The tour comes to two cities near Albert Lea this week: Rochester tonight and Mankato Thursday.

Members of the commission will meet with area leaders and hold open houses, inviting the public to learn more about stadium issues and talk to MSFC commissioners and staff about what they think we should do next.

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Events are scheduled as follows:

– Rochester, 7 to 9 p.m. today, Ramada Hotel

– Mankato, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Alltel Center

– Virginia, Nov. 14

– Moorhead, Jan. 8

– St. Cloud, Jan. 9

– Duluth, Jan. 10

– Marshall, Jan. 15

– Minneapolis, Jan. 1

&8220;Gopher football leaves after the 2008 season, the Twins leave after 2009, and the Vikings&8217; use agreement with the Metrodome ends after the 2011 season,&8221; said Roy Terwilliger, MSFC chairman. &8220;We need to move the discussion forward about whether we want to keep pro football in Minnesota, and if we want to secure the benefits of a year-round, climate-controlled public facility like the Metrodome for future generations.&8221;

The Metrodome was built for $55 million in bonds and $35 million in additional infrastructure &8212; and for the past 20-plus years, receiving no ongoing tax subsidies &8212; the Metrodome has been home to professional baseball and football; collegiate football, baseball and basketball; high school sports; touch football leagues; motorsports; religious rallies; rock concerts; and rollerbladers; not to mention corporate parties, high school reunions and even a few weddings. In all, on average, the Metrodome is in use about 300 days each year, fewer than 100 of which feature professional or major college sports.

An important reason that the Metrodome&8217;s success is because it has been home to the Vikings. The Vikings&8217; 10 home games per year deliver $6 million of the Metrodome&8217;s $15 million annual operating budget, according to a MSFC news release. Without the Twins and the Gophers, the Metrodome will still be able to pay for its cost of operations and improvements. Without the Vikings, it won&8217;t.