Saturday, March 17, 2012

Time To Play Hardball For The Minnesota Vikings And The Stadium That They Want

     The Vikings have been requesting a new stadium for over a decade now.  In the past year, the Vikings have held a party announcing a new Vikings complex in Arden Hills.  It would have housed the Stadium, Team Facility, and had enough room for shops, restaurants, hotels, and a Vikings building for their Hall of Fame.  It would have demolished a blight on the eyes of an old munitions plant that hasn't been used for years.  And it appeared that all was good with the Vikings and a new stadium.

Well, the thing is that politics came into play.  First, there were some citizens in Ramsey County that argued that the county could not give more than $1 Million to finance a stadium unless there was a referendum.  Then the City commission in Minneapolis said that they had new plans to build a stadium there.  Then the state legislature said that they would not fund a complex in Arden Hills unless the problems of financing were taken care of.  Then the governor said that there would be problems of the state funding the stadium at Arden Hills, basically giving into the Minneapolis political pressure that they were putting on the governor.  So all the champagne that the Vikings popped in Arden Hills was for naught.  The state and Ramsey County said that the plan wasn't going to happen, so that plan went by the wayside.

Next came the state claiming poverty.  It could claim it because they were about $500 Million in the red for the state budget.  So the state said that the Vikings would have to play at the Metrodome because it wouldn't be responsible for it to spend between $300 to 500 Million for a new stadium.  The Vikings didn't like that answer because the state of minnesota had built the Xcel Center, the Target Center, Target Field, and TD Waterhouse Stadium all within the last decade.  The same decade that the Vikings have been screaming for a new stadium.  So when the last budget was announced and the state of Minnesota had a surplus of over $200 Million, the state all of a sudden said that they could finance a stadium and they would work with the Vikings to get it done.

Well, after the state was on board, the problem went back to where to locate the stadium.  The Minneapolis mayor and City Council brought forth three locations to locate the stadium in Minneapolis again.  Well, there were other communities that submitted plans for a new stadium, but the politics involved meant that those plans were snubbed just like the Arden Hills plan was in favor for Minneapolis.  Finally, a site was selected and it would be right next to where the Metrodome currently is.  And it was agreed upon by the Vikings, the Governor, the Minneapolis mayor, and the State Legislature Leaders.  Finally, the Vikings had a new home and it would be ready by 2016, right?  Nope.


Last we heard, there was reason for optimism.  The team, the Governor, legislative leaders, and the Mayor of Minneapolis had struck a deal for a new dome, right next to the current Metrodome.
Pending, of course, approval by the Legislature and the Minneapolis City Council.
As to the former, it’s not looking good.  The politicians are dragging their feet, and for good reason.  It’s an election year.  Every seat in the House and Senate will be up for grabs, and if the stadium deal is struck without a referendum on the use of public money, the election for every seat in the Legislature will serve as said referendum.  Also, the City Council doesn’t seem to be enthused about sealing the deal, regardless of whether a loophole can be engineered regarding a City Charter provision requiring a vote on any investment in a sports facility in excess of $10 million.

Why can’t the Vikings get this ball rolling, even with an expired lease?  It’s obvious.  The politicians don’t fear that the Vikings will leave.

If I were running things, there would be a press conference called by owner Ziggy Wilf on Monday morning.  Make it known about a half-hour to the press before the press conference starts.   In it make it short and sweet.  Tell the people that the Vikings will play the 2012 season in the Metrodome and as of Monday of next week, we will listen to any other cities that are interested in having an NFL franchise.  Tell LA and San Antonio that the phone lines will be open if you want to call.  Tell them that the Vikings name will not make the trip to their city.  Also tell the city and state leaders that the Vikings have been patient, but the patience has been exhausted and we will not play this game any longer.

It is time for the Vikings to play hardball with the state of Minnesota and the City leaders of Minneapolis.  If they are not willing to do what the Vikings need them to do, then the people of Minnesota deserve to be without an NFL team.  And if that does happen, do not blame the Vikings or the NFL.  The people of Minnesota need to look into the mirror and blame themselves.  And I for one, would stand and applaud the Wilfs and the Vikings for actually standing up for themselves.


Anonymous said...

I'm on the fence when it comes to new stadiums. The owners will make their money, but how about the people financing and running the stadium? And how about the average price for a family of four to attend a game?

The Chargers have been using LA as a threat for a new stadium for a decade and they're still here. Ed Roski hasn't broken ground on his project yet and AEG's downtown plan for Farmers Field is pie in the sky.

Ziggy can stomp his foot all he wants but San Antonio is the only facility that's ready now for an NFL team.

Anonymous said...

I also forgot to mention one thing no one wants to talk about. Any team threatening to move to LA will have to play in the Rose Bowl or the LA Coliseum for two to three years before the new stadium is ready to go.

Brent said...

The thing about the stadium is that the Vikings earn all the revenue created when they play. For all other events, the city or stae gets the revenue. So the state would be making it's money back.

And if the team is willing to pump in more than $400 Million towards the new stadium, then I would say that the Vikings have stepped up and put their money where their mouth is.

And if you think that the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum is worse than the Metrodome, I invite you to the concrete monstrosity that is in downtown Minneapolis.