Vikings Ownership Mentions 'Los Angeles' For The First Time. Or, How We've Gotten To This Point, A Stadium Retrospective

Mike Florio over at Profootballtalk.com has dropped this interesting nugget:

The Minnesota Vikings are exploring stadium options, including Los Angeles:

John Vomhof Jr. of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that Vikings Vice President of Stadium Development and Public Affairs Lester Bagley confirmed during an online chat that the team has been approached by the two groups that want to bring a team to Los Angeles.

Before we set our hair on fire, let's look at a few things.  After the jump, of course...

Oh, one thing:  This WILL NOT devolve into a political discussion about how crappy Republicans or Democrats are.  BOTH parties on this issue have failed miserably for over 10 years.   Pretty please, I BEG you to test me on this. 

Mmmmkay?  Thanks.

There is a new political reality in Minnesota, for one.  For the first time in over 30 years, Republicans control both houses of the Legislature, but it looks like that a Democrat will occupy the Governor's chair.  Since the Vikings stadium became an issue, oh about 35 years ago, either the Republicans, be they in the Legislature or the Governor's chair, never were serious about a new stadium.  Democrats?  Ditto.  Jesse Ventura?  Ditto.

Now, however, both Republicans and Democrats seem to be warming to the fact that yeah, no bullshit, the Vikings are going to move if they don't get a stadium.  Jesse Ventura is trying to find a conspiracy theory about it.  In the past, the stadium was a political football (pun 100% intended) used by both Republicans and Democrats alike to try and damage the other political party, and no one was interested in moving forward with a serious proposal.  Either Governor Tim Pawlenty has tried to use it to damage the Democrats, or senate Democrat Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller has stonewalled any plan that a Republican came up with before a plan could come together.  It was juvenile for both parties, and quite frankly, I can't wait for both of them to be as far away from this new effort as possible.

Are the Minnesota Vikings faultless in this?  No, they are not.  The Vikings had what looked to be a promising stadium site out in Anoka County, with a plan that involved no state money, other than road and highway infrastructure upgrades that the state would be responsible for anyway.  While the Vikings were still negotiating with Anoka County officials (who thought they were negotiating exclusively with the Vikings), the Vikings were still looking at a downtown location on the current Metrodome site.  The only problem was that here was nothing close to a funding agreement for the downtown site, and there was one in place for the Blaine site.  Now, was it a guarantee to pass?  No, there would've been tough votes, and there was an environmental issue over wetlands that needed to be solved, but there was a workable plan, and one that I think could have passed.  But with the Minneapolis site, there was no way that a stadium plan was going to get passed with state money.  Target Field was financed through an additional sales tax in Hennepin County, and Gov. Pawlenty said that any plan involving state money was a non-starter.  When Anoka County officials found out that Wilf and the Vikings were still talking with officials about a downtown Minneapolis site, they said that the Anoka County stadium was dead.  And so, I thought, was a realistic chance at getting a new stadium for the Vikings. 

So in gambling for a downtown site, Wilf ruined what was his best chance at a stadium, at least at the time.  Had that gone through in 2006 or 2007, the Vikings would be playing in a new facility next year.

But I I believe that when push came to shove, and make no mistake, push HAS come to shove, the Legislature would pull their collective heads out of their collective asses and get a stadium deal done. 

And from a business perspective, Zygi Wilf is in a win-win situation.  I think he gambled that the Legislature would do the same thing, and would eventually get a new downtown facility, albeit a few years behind his original schedule.  But for Wilf, that's okay, because a downtown facility will more than likely be more valuable than a suburban facility in Blaine, so it's probably worth the wait.

And if the Minnesota Legislature doesn't come through, Wilf is in a position to either sell the Vikings for a several hundred million dollar profit, or move the team to Los Angeles, where the value of the team instantly jumps those same several hundred million dollars.

So, it's crunch time.  It's either pass a stadium this session, or the VIkings are gone. 

Some of us never thought it would get to that point, but it's time to pull your heads out of the sand.  Lobby your state representative, lobby your state senator, and let them know what the Vikings mean to you.

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