Spring is about a month early in the fine state of Minnesota. Pasty people are wearing shorts and tank tops, robins are building nests, and people are thinking of uncovering their air-conditioners...in March. It's all a little strange. Pleasant, but strange.
I have trust issues with spring because Minnesota tends to offer her residents a season and then take it away just to mess with us. I have similar trust issues with the Minnesota Vikings' efforts to get a new stadium built. Positive developments have a way of being mitigated by some fresh hell. I don't like feeling that pessimistic, but it's a challenge not to.
As Chris posted earlier, seven members of the Minneapolis City Council have now expressed official support for the plan to build a new stadium adjacent/overlapping the current Metrodome site. This seven-member majority on the Council, though fragile, is a big step in enabling the stadium legislation at the state capitol to move forward. Facing reelection campaigns this fall, lawmakers want to know that there is Minneapolis support for a new stadium before they commit to supporting it.
Last night the news report I saw suggested that what convinced three previously uncertain Council members perceived as being in the middle (Meg Tuthill, Sandy Colvin Roy, and Kevin Reich) that they should support the stadium legislation negotiated by Mayor R.T. Rybak, Council President Barb Johnson, the Vikings, and the state, were lobbying efforts that the stadium construction would create jobs. That is hardly new, but it seems to have been more compelling when the unions were the ones doing the lobbying rather than the team.
Here's why I'm a little nervous about the Council's current majority of support for a stadium deal. Support from Tuthill, Colvin Roy, and Reich was given conditionally in support of the stadium bill as it is now. That is a big stipulation because in the stadium bill's first committee outing in the state senate, there was no vote on the bill, but there was an amendment to it regarding the length of the team's lease. That's what the Legislature does--it moves bills through committees, tweaking them until they are something that can receive support from a majority. So, if support on the Council is premised on the bill being exactly as it is now, but with the legislative process likely to alter things a bit, is it really support?
I'd like to believe it is simply because the alternative, that a new stadium doesn't have a majority of support from the Council, puts the stadium legislation back in the untenable position it was in before, with legislators withholding support because of the Council's lack of support.
However, with the support from the Council, the Legislature has lost an excuse (there may be more excuses lurking) for not moving forward with the stadium bill. And that means that voter support is still crucial. If you're a Minnesota resident who supports this stadium bill, then contact your representatives. They need to know that the people they answer to come election time want this bill to pass.
Unlike the Minnesota's weather, which we have to simply take on faith and then stay prepared for anything, Minnesota's lawmakers are something that we voters can do something about.