While not nearly as big as the rally the Vikings and Governor Dayton put together for Saturday, stadium bill proponents have continued their strong push towards ensuring a stadium for the Minnesota Vikings franchise by holding another press event in northeast Minneapolis.
Beyond anything else, stadium supporters at this press event focused on job creation as the primary motivation for a new public works project. In order to emphasize this message, the Vikings and Governor Dayton held their rally at the union bar, Mac's Industrial Sports Bar.
There was little room for ambiguity, as the first speaker at the event, the owner of the bar started strong by gathering crowd support for union jobs, in addition to thanking majority leader Hamilton and Governor Dayton for their support.
In front of the stage may have been the most striking visual of the event - two little girls, holding signs asking for the Minnesota legislature to return their father to work. Referenced twice by speakers at the event, the humanity of these children personalized the ache of perpetual insecurity in the job market.
Shar Knutson, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, drove home he point that the beleagured construction industry could use much more support from the state of Minnesota in creating new opportunities for construction employment.
Further discussions with local electrician union members revealed an unwavering confidence in both the bill and the Minnesota legislature in assuring union jobs for the endeavor.
"With this [scrutiny], I can guarantee you that this will be a union project, from start to finish," one said.
But construction jobs were not the only theme at this event. Chuck Foreman, former All-Pro running back for the Minnesota Vikings, made sure that not all jobs were temporary.
"Every day, you'll have hard working Minnesotans inside and outside the stadiums, serving your community," he said.
While projected temporary job numbers were inconsistent, the larger focus of creating new jobs was not lost on the crowd. Amid cheers asking for the Minnesota Legislature to "build it," there were members of the Vikings staff silently handing out information sheets with the number "11,000" printed in large type. Knutson herself believed the project would generate 13,000 jobs.
Foreman's assurance for permanent benefits was further reinforced by Dayton and Hamilton. Explicit infrastructure improvements, both at the stadium and in its surrounding environs, was guaranteed to "get Minnesota's economy moving again."
And speakers were well aware of critics. Hamilton went so far as to point out the callousness of a well-known Forbes article, specifically indicting what he called its understanding that "construction jobs did not help the economy." His contention that construction jobs are stimulative is well-supported by other contemporary research.
Hamilton, however, focused on a different aspect in his support for the Minnesota Vikings. "I just love football," he said. Referencing the popular Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment ratified in 2008, Hamilton argued that his arts and entertainment was best found on the gridiron. He also may have had the most profound line of the night, "This isn't a red issue or a blue issue - it's a purple issue," he said, straining to be heard over the cheering assembly.
Foreman and others agreed that Minnesota would be losing a big part of its culture if the Vikings were let go. But, he didn't doubt the ability of Minnesotans to get things done.
"I remember my first game, my rookie year at the Met," he told the crowd. "It was cold. And you know, I'm from Miami, and I was very cold. But I turned around to the crowd and I saw you. I saw all of the fans watching me, out in the cold. I knew then, that I could do it."
He made sure the crowd understood how important the fans were to the Minnesota Vikings, going so far as to say "I don't want to sign autographs in L.A. They didn't cheer for me."
Gregarious to the last, Foreman soon after entered the crowd in order to sign autographs and chat with supporters, even revealing that he lost his way to the bar, and followed a fan wearing an "Alan Page" in order to get there.
The Vikings are asking people to appear at the capitol on Monday and are holding another rally at 2:00 in the rotunda. They asked fans to call or email their legislators, either through vikings.com or www.gis.leg.mn/openlayers/districts
They also had staff on hand to provide district information to any who asked, as well as the number for the Senate switchboard (651)-296-0504 and the House switchboard (651)-296-2146 if fans wanted to find out later.
Other speakers at the event included Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who went out of his way to thank Representative Zeller for allowing the bill to come to a floor vote, and Lester Bagley, Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs. Rybak pounded home the jobs message, and Bagley emphasized the Vikings' cultural legacy in the state of Minnesota.