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New Vikings stadium is almost a done deal

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Vikings moved closer to getting a $975 million stadium after the state Senate passed a financing bill Thursday. Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the bill, which the House passed at about 4 a.m. Thursday, next week.

"We're going to build it!" Dayton told a cheering crowd of Vikings fans at the Capitol.

The City Council of Minneapolis, where the stadium would open in 2016 on the site of the Metrodome, still must approve the deal on May 25. But Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he has the votes to pass it. In addition, 24 of 32 NFL owners must approve the deal because NFL money will be used.

The Vikings' lease at the 30-year-old Metrodome expired after last season. And the league hinted they could move without a new stadium. But now they will be locked into a 30-year lease at a domed stadium. (The Vikings must pay for a retractable roof if they want one.)

The cost breakdown:

• The team will pay 49 percent, $477 million, $50 million more than it initially committed. It can get a loan of up to $200 million from the NFL and will sell naming rights and, possibly, seat licenses.

• The state will pay $348 million via tax revenue from new forms of gambling.

• Minneapolis will pay $150 million via a sales tax extension.

The start of construction has not been determined. But the team has a deal with the University of Minnesota to play games at TCF Bank Field if the Metrodome becomes unavailable.

Meaning of bounty email in dispute

NEW ORLEANS — An email from an imprisoned friend of the Saints staff has become a point of contention between the NFL and players being punished for the bounty system.

It was written by Mike Ornstein, who once represented ex-Saints running back Reggie Bush, shortly before the 2011 opener against the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The last line, to then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, reads: "Put me down for $5000.00 on Rogers (sic)."

The NFL cited Ornstein's line about Rodgers, stating coach Sean Payton got the email from "a close associate."

Ornstein, who served eight months for conspiring to scalp Super Bowl tickets and sell fake "game-worn" jerseys, said this week that was written "in total jest … It's a running joke going for three years."

A lawyer for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (suspended for the upcoming season) said the NFL is manipulating evidence.

"Ornstein's email is just another example of the speciousness of the quote-unquote evidence that Commissioner (Roger) Goodell claims to have to support his erroneous accusations," Peter Ginsberg said. "As more of the evidence is revealed in the media, it is becoming more and more apparent how irresponsible the NFL's actions have been."

The NFL did not respond to a request for comment.

Reavis sticks by shot: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who called Bill Belichick a "jerk" earlier this year, said he stands by his comments because the way Patriots coach "disrespects" the Jets is uncalled for. "When you make it personal, when you say things that are personal, why go there?" Revis said of derogatory comments he believes Belichick made last season.

Broncos: Cornerback Drayton Florence, released by the Bills last week, signed.

Browns: Defensive tackle Phil Taylor might need season-ending surgery after injuring a chest muscle lifting weights.

Cardinals: Defensive end Calais Campbell agreed to re-sign for five years.

PATRIOTS: Former USF offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren was one of seven undrafted rookie free agents signed. The team also signed former Colts running back Joseph Addai.

Raiders: Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving for an April 8 incident last month on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. A hearing is scheduled for May 31.

Concussions: Hall of Fame receiver Art Monk is among the former players who filed a lawsuit saying the league did not inform them about the dangers of head injuries. There now are 71 suits involving about 1,900 players.

Officials: The league is seeking potential replacements while it negotiates with the officials' association on a new labor deal. Both sides say they believe a deal will be reached. But the league said it "must have contingency plans."

Spring league: A revived USFL plans to start a 14-week season with eight teams (none in NFL cities) in March. Officials said they "will not try to compete with the NFL." The previous incarnation went out of business in 1987.

New Vikings stadium is almost a done deal 05/10/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 11, 2012 1:40am]

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