Carlson puts feelers

by Jennifer Niemela

Gov. Arne Carlson said this week in a WCCO radio interview he’d like to arrange a group of citizens to discuss the possibility of building a new outdoor football stadium.
The Gophers would play at the proposed facility, which would also be leased to the Vikings.
The issue came up because of the recent sale of the Vikings to San Antonio businessman Red McCombs, said Carlson’s press secretary Jackie Renner. McCombs purchased the team July 1 for $205 million plus $40 million debt. The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome runs until 2012, while the Gophers’ lease runs out in 2011.
Renner said Carlson realizes Minnesotans aren’t satisfied with the Metrodome, which is home to both the Gophers and the Vikings. Carlson wants to start a discussion about a potential outdoor stadium during the 1998 gubernatorial race. Carlson is not running for re-election.
University officials were reluctant to commit to the idea of building a new stadium.
“Right now we don’t have that kind of money hanging around unless somebody wants to be a good sugar daddy and give us the money,” said University Regent Tom Reagan.
The Gophers football team has played in the Metrodome since the team moved from Memorial Stadium in 1982. Memorial Stadium, an outdoor facility, was later torn down. The University Aquatic Center stands in its place.
The last time an outdoor stadium at the University was seriously proposed, during the 1994-95 school year, reaction was mixed. While many University leaders advocated bringing outdoor football back to the University and closer to campus, some said the Metrodome has merits. Former football coach Jim Wacker said he even used the indoor facility as a recruiting tool to entice players who were wary of Minnesota’s harsh winters.

–Staff Reporter Jeremy Taff contributed to this story.