No New Vikings Stadium Until 2013?
Sports Headliners’ sources don’t believe the legislature will pass a Vikings stadium bill in 2012. If so, that means no approval this spring, nor is it likely that Governor Mark Dayton will call a special session to address the stadium issue.
The reaction of the Vikings ownership and NFL is likely to be silence. That will add to drama and speculation about a possible franchise transfer to Los Angeles. The threat of losing the team will cause so much political pressure between now and the 2013 legislative session that a stadium bill is likely to be passed next winter.
The Vikings won’t try to move the team for the 2012 season and the NFL wouldn’t consider such a transfer. However, the Vikings ownership (present or new owners) could go before the NFL after next season and ask to move the team.
If the legislature is sure to pass a stadium bill during the early months of 2013, that will trump a request to relocate the franchise. Why? Because the Vikings have been a successful franchise operating in a desirable market for more than 50 years. Their business model blemish is the Metrodome; but fan support, corporate backing and TV revenues are first rate.
A Vikings stadium bill in 2013 can be addressed without the political pressure of an election year. That should help secure votes but there will still be squabbling over stadium financing and probably the site.
The stadium should be located in Minneapolis. The city has the infrastructure, parking and hospitality amenities to accommodate the Vikings and other large events. Building on the Metrodome site is the most cost-efficient new stadium option, although the Farmers Market location would add to an entertainment corridor that already includes Target Stadium and Target Field. Then, too, the economic vitality of the region’s largest city can only be enhanced by the building of the new stadium in Minneapolis and that is important to the future of the metropolitan area. Counting various attractions and uses, including even small community events, the stadium will be used hundreds of days per year.
Anti-Minneapolis online chat room bashers don’t consider these facts, nor are they aware it was Minneapolis that made the bond financing possible for Met Stadium and then the Metrodome. The state of Minnesota, by the way, contributed no money to building the facilities that first attracted and then maintained major league baseball and football here. It is Minneapolis and its core suburbs that historically made major league sports possible in Minnesota.
Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak deserves credit for championing the Vikings stadium before a reluctant city council. The city’s governing model puts the power in the hands of the council, and its membership was a tough sell for Rybak and other stadium advocates.
Whether Rybak can hold the 7-6 pro-stadium council majority in place during the coming months could be dicey. But with the help of business and labor advocates he might do so, and that would retain the city’s commitment of $150 million to the stadium project.
If not, Hennepin County is still the “gorilla in the room” regarding possible stadium funding sources. That card should give further hope to those who worry about the stadium issue and losing the Vikings.