Now I know exactly how it must have felt when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. (NSFW language at the link, although you probably know exactly what video clip it goes to and, therefore, should probably know that already.)
So, we all know that the Minnesota Vikings' stadium bill is dead for this year, thanks to a bi-partisan fail in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee last night. Once the February 15 deadline for the Vikings to declare their intent to relocate went by the boards, so did any urgency for the Minnesota legislature to get anything done concerning a Vikings' stadium in this session. The legislature managed to string the team along just long enough to ensure they were staying in Minnesota for the 2012 season, and then decided it was in their best interests to not do anything this year.
Mind you, that's not to say that everybody in the legislature did this. . .there were plenty of people that fought hard for this legislation to pass through, on both sides of the aisle. In the end, however, it simply wasn't enough to satisfy the people that needed to be satisfied.
Governor Dayton is attempting to be optimistic about the whole thing, saying that if stadium legislation doesn't happen this year, that they'll "get it next year."
And they might. . .but there's one big thing that needs to happen if there's a realistic chance of that taking place.The thing that needs to take place. . .and I'm not sure how realistic a chance this has of happening. . .is that everyone involved with this project needs to look at the city of Minneapolis and tell them, in no uncertain terms, that the stadium is going somewhere else. It's not going in Minneapolis, because Minneapolis has had their chance, and they've blown it.
Allow me to briefly recap how we got to the point of having a potential new Vikings' stadium on the Metrodome site.
Vikings: "Okay, after years of waiting behind the Twins, waiting behind the Gophers, finding a suitable site, finding a willing local partner, and jumping through every other hoop you've asked us to jump through, we have finally come up with a pretty solid plan for a new Minnesota Vikings' stadium."
Minneapolis: "Hey, now, what about us? We have a bunch of sites that a stadium would be great for!"
Vikings: "Well, none of those sites are as good as the Arden Hills site. The Arden Hills site would clean up and make use of land that currently isn't being used for anything, create thousands of jobs, and really stimulate an area that could use it."
Minneapolis: "But we're Minneapolis! The stadium has just GOTTA go in Minneapolis!"
Vikings: "I understand your concern, but. . ."
Governor Dayton: "If you want to get anything done this session, it's going to have to be in Minneapolis."
Vikings: (sigh) "Okay, Minneapolis it is. With this plan, your share is $150 million."
Minneapolis: "Well, you see, we have this thing in the city charter that says if we want to spend any more than $10 million on a stadium, this has to go to a referendum."
Vikings: "A referendum that you know will fail, yes? Because the people that you represent want all of the benefits of a Vikings' stadium with none of the cost, correct?"
Minneapolis: "Well, yeah, obviously."
Vikings: "Well, then, it doesn't make any sense that we go ahead with this because. . ."
Minneapolis: "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! The stadium has to be in Minneapolis! The Governor said so!"
(NFL relocation deadline passes)
Minneapolis: "Oh, hey, would you look at the time? Tell you what. . .come back next year with a stadium bill so that we can string you along for another year and ultimately screw you over again."
So, Minneapolis is going to require that any stadium legislation concerning the city of Minneapolis is going to be subject to a referendum, are they? Well, there's one sure-fire way around that, and that's to cut Minneapolis out of the picture entirely. Shakopee has a nice plan for a stadium. . .the Arden Hills plan was pretty well done, and the one that the team prefers anyway. . .and I'm sure that, given a little more time, a few other sites could get proposals in place for consideration, too. Minneapolis simply thinks that they're the only game in town, because they've been given the impression that they're the only game in town. That needs to come to an end. If Minneapolis doesn't want to burden themselves with the cost of a stadium, that's fine by me.
In that case, they shouldn't be burdened with any of the benefits, either.
The anti-stadium crowd will say, "Well, we still have the Metrodome, and there's nothing wrong with it. . .it just got a new roof and new turf and blah blah blah." (Yes, it is pretty much the dumbest argument ever. . .so goes the anti-stadium crowd.) The funny thing about that is the fact that the Minnesota Vikings pay pretty much all of the operating costs for the Metrodome. The testimony from last night's committee hearing stated that if the Vikings were to leave, the Metrodome would become financially non-viable for the city of Minneapolis in about 18 months. So, yes, if the Vikings were to leave, Minneapolis would still have the Dome. . .for about a year and a half. Then the city wouldn't be able to afford to have the Dome any longer.
Then where are you going to hold all of these big-time events that the Dome hosts now? You think you're getting Big Ten Football Championship Games or Super Bowls or NCAA Basketball Regionals or Final Fours at the Target Center or the XCel Energy Center or Target Field? Because I have news for you. . .no, you're not.
At least a quarter of Minnesota Vikings' season ticket holders are from outside of Minnesota. Taking that into consideration, along with people that attend the occasional single game and opposing fans, you could surmise that 30 to 40% of the fans in the Metrodome on any given Sunday are from outside of Minnesota. With the Metrodome's 65,000 seating capacity, that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 to 25,000 people coming from out of state to spend their money in Minneapolis and Minnesota as a whole.
Are these people under the impression that, if the Vikings disappear, these people are still going to come to Minneapolis on Sundays and spend their money in the city and in the state of Minnesota as a whole rather than staying in their home state and spending it there? Because I have my doubts. Heck, I'm an out-of-stater. . .and if the Vikings somehow leave town, I don't have any reason to spend a single dollar of my money inside of the state of Minnesota again. Not only that, I'm about six years away from retirement, and my wife and I have looked at Minnesota as a potential retirement destination. But, if Minnesota decides that they don't need the Vikings because of the ignorance of the city of Minneapolis, my guess is that they don't need us and our potential tax dollars, either.
The time is rapidly approaching. . .even though most of us thought the time had already passed. . .for a serious discussion about the Vikings' stadium. And as long as Minneapolis is in, and insists on dominating, the picture, there will never be any serious discussion on the matter. The Vikings, Governor Dayton, and everyone involved in the process needs to make it clear that Minneapolis has blown their chance and that locations that are actually serious about bringing the Vikings to their community will be getting a fair shake next time around.