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 ST. PAUL (AP) -A day after NFL officials got a chilly reception from the Minnesota legislature on the prospects of a new football stadium, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said the issue ``needs to be resolved in the near future.''
A group of officials from the NFL visited the Capitol on Monday and met with several legislative leaders in hopes of generating momentum for a proposed $954 million complex in downtown Minneapolis.
``We appreciate the willingness of Minnesota's state leaders to meet with the National Football League this week and address the state's stadium situation,'' Wilf said Tuesday in a statement issued by the team. ``The seriousness of the stadium issue has risen to a priority at the League level.''
Apparently not at the state level, though.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller all separately told the NFL on Monday that the issue likely will not be broached during the 2008 legislative session.
All three said the state has higher priorities, including addressing a projected $373 million deficit by mid-2009, questions about transportation infrastructure in the wake of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, property tax reform and education funding.
``The Vikings and the NFL understand and respect the priorities and pressing issues facing the state, but at the same time, the stadium issue needs to be resolved in the near future,'' Wilf said. ``Construction costs are rising significantly each year that we delay and there is an urgency to reach a solution.''
The state's answer puts the project - a retractable roof stadium along with housing and business development on the Metrodome site - up against a tight deadline.
The Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires in 2011. With a new project expected to take about four years to complete, and approval looking like it won't come until 2009 at the earliest, things could start to get interesting.
Wilf has pledged about $250 million for the new stadium and more to redevelop the surrounding area, but lawmakers are still waiting to see a detailed proposal for how the entire project will be funded.
Wilf has never threatened to move the team if a stadium solution isn't reached, as previous owner Red McCombs did before selling the team to Wilf three years ago.
But the New Jersey real estate developer's statement on Tuesday showed that he is serious about having this addressed sooner rather than later.
``We are confident that state leaders and the Vikings will work together to reach a solution, just as many other NFL cities have done in recent years,'' Wilf said. ``We look forward to advancing the stadium issue during the 2008 legislative session.''

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