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Vikings buy four blocks near Metrodome from Star Tribune owners

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have bought four blocks near the Metrodome from the owners of the Star Tribune newspaper as part of their plan to build a new football stadium and redevelop the nearby land on the east side of downtown Minneapolis, the team announced Wednesday.

The Vikings’ ownership group, led by Zygi Wilf, acquired the land from Avista Capital Partners, which bought the newspaper in March, though the team had been negotiating to buy the property since at least last October when the Star Tribune was owned by the McClatchy Co.

The Star Tribune quoted unnamed sources with knowledge of the transaction as saying the Vikings paid $45 million for the land. Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development, declined to confirm or deny that. Avista officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

"It’s significant because it demonstrates a real commitment (by the Vikings) to both the Metrodome site and downtown east," said Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.

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The commission owns the Metrodome and is working with the Vikings on plans for the proposed $954 million stadium with a retractable roof. Wilf hasn’t detailed how the project would be paid for or how much taxpayer money would be involved.

"The result will be a plus for us as we talk about a multipurpose stadium where the Vikings would also play," said Roy Terwilliger, chairman of the commission. "The whole area will be under development. I would assume that the Vikings will pick up other properties, that other property owners will fall in line with it."

The four blocks sold do not include the block where the newspaper’s main office sits. The newspaper has used the four blocks mainly for surface parking, but the land also includes another large office building and an older warehouse facility.

Last month, Wilf said he paid $5 million for three other parking lots near the Metrodome, which together comprise less than three blocks. Wilf also has been negotiating to buy a city-owned underground parking ramp at the light-rail station near the Metrodome.

"We are committed to bringing world championships to the state of Minnesota and to providing a first-class game day experience for Vikings fans," Wilf said in a statement Wednesday. "We look forward to being part of a public-private partnership to build a world-class, multiuse facility that will benefit the entire state."

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