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Right time for Minnesota's new gathering place

For nearly 30 years the Metrodome has served as the home of the Minnesota Vikings and as Minnesota's gathering place -- hosting more than 200 cultural, religious, sporting and entertainment events each year. It has served our state and its citizens well. But time is running out for the Metrodome, especially given that the Vikings do not plan to extend their lease beyond the 2011 season.

More than 30 years have passed since the Minnesota Legislature created the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to provide a home for our professional sports teams and provide a world-class, multi-use facility for all Minnesotans. Today, the Metrodome is one of the oldest professional sports venues in the country.

Without the Vikings, the Metrodome cannot sustain itself and will leave Minnesotans without a venue for numerous top-tier, large-scale events, including a home for the Minnesota High School League's Prep Bowl championships and soccer tournaments. That is why the MSFC is taking important and vital steps to ensure that Minnesotans have a world-class, multi-use facility, a home for our Minnesota Vikings and a statewide asset where Minnesotans can continue to gather for years to come.

As Minnesotans, we place a high value on our quality of life. We recognize the value of cultural events and Vikings football games, of NCAA Final Four tournaments and premiere concerts. We recognize the value they bring in revenue to our state, we recognize the value they bring to generations of families and we recognize the value they bring to our overall quality of life.

Our tough economic times have presented the MSFC with a real opportunity that will put people back to work while saving approximately $100 million in construction costs if we start now. Building a new world-class, multi-use facility not only will generate additional tax revenue for the state, but also helps Minnesota attract opportunities and events that will generate economic activity for years to come. This is our greatest opportunity for an immediate investment in the state that will pay real dividends in the future.

In the coming months, the MSFC will move forward to advance its plan that was created in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings. As a steward to the people of this state, we are excited and ready to advance this effort in the Minnesota Legislature in effort to keep the beloved Vikings in Minnesota and ensure that you, your friends and your neighbors have a place to gather and call home.

Roy Terwilliger is chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.