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Vikings pedestrian bridge deal delayed

An expected deal between the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to build a $6 million pedestrian bridge linking the new football stadium to the Downtown East light rail stop did not come through Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Council was scheduled to consider the agreement at its meeting Wednesday night, but the item was not included in the agenda. A Metro Transit spokesman said Thursday the discussion was delayed to gather more information for a complete presentation to the board in the coming weeks. The transit agency wants to build the bridge to separate crowds of pedestrians from light rail trains at Fourth Street and Chicago Avenue.

But a week earlier, four council members voted against the agreement, and some said they believed the sports team should pay more for the project. Under the terms of the agreement, the Met Council would pay all of the construction and operating costs for the bridge. The Vikings and the MSFA would contribute a combined $300,000 annually in promotional revenue in exchange for naming rights and other restrictions on advertising on the platform.

“We’re paying to bring their customers to them,” council member Edward Reynoso said before he voted against the agreement last week.

Metro Transit initiated the pedestrian bridge idea because of safety concerns, said Minnesota Vikings executive vice president Lester Bagley. The concerns aren’t simply a Vikings issue, he said, because they affect anyone who uses the light rail platform and visitors for other events besides football games.

“We don’t want to be on the wrong side of a safety issue,” Bagley said.

The next time the project comes up before the full Met Council, Bagley said he hoped there would be more detail on the safety issues and how the project was initiated to clear up confusion. He noted the agreement is almost identical to the one in place between Metro Transit and the Minnesota Twins.

At this point, Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said the agreement was not being renegotiated.

While the Met Council would pay between $5.5 million and $6 million to construct the bridge, the MSFA is also leading a $2 million project to revamp the plaza near the transit station.

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