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Vikings inquired about Lake Elmo for stadium

The Minnesota Vikings' pursuit of a new stadium recently led the team to Lake Elmo.

But if stadium negotiations play out like a football game, the talks did not get beyond the coin toss.

As state lawmakers rolled out a Vikings stadium funding proposal Monday, Lake Elmo officials confirmed they had contact with Vikings officials earlier this year about possible stadium sites north of Interstate 94.

City administrator Bruce Messelt said he identified four areas in the city where multiple properties potentially could be combined to create sites large enough for a professional football stadium.

Three of those sites were along the interstate dividing Lake Elmo and Woodbury. The fourth was north of the Eagle Point Business Park.

Messelt and Lake Elmo Mayor Dean Johnston said the Vikings' inquiry was treated just like any other economic development-related call the city receives. They said staff provided basic property information and asked that the Vikings request a meeting if the team wanted to further pursue the idea.

There has been "very limited contact between representatives of Lake Elmo and the Vikings regarding potential locations," Messelt said. "That's literally it."

Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley, who is handling the team's drive for a new stadium to replace the Metrodome, did not return a call seeking comment.

Messelt said he traded e-mails with Bagley about three times earlier this year. After checking on the team's interest in Lake Elmo in early April, Messelt said he was told to watch the Legislature.

A group of lawmakers on Monday announced a bill funding a $791 million Vikings stadium. It proposes two possible funding sources and relies on a local government partner that would own the stadium. The Vikings have explored possible deals with Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park, but no site has been identified.

Woodbury city administrator Clint Gridley said the Vikings never have contacted Woodbury to discuss possible stadium sites.

Johnston said while the Vikings inquired about Lake Elmo, a recent speech by Bagley hinted the team is focused on a city to the west.

"He was showing pictures of the new stadium with the Minneapolis skyline prominently in the background," Johnston recalled of Bagley's presentation to the League of Metro Cities. "What more can I say? He didn't have the Lake Elmo Park Reserve in the background."

See the May 5 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin for the full story.