The one-sentence summary of this storyline: Billionaire wants to build a football stadium in Los Angeles with private money, California state legislature exempts the project from environmental laws, and Ahnold signs the bill on Thursday which has opened the way for this project to actually happen. In his statement, the Governator issued what should be considered a call to action for anyone who cares about the future of the Vikings in Minnesota:
"The team doesn’t have to necessarily come from California. It could come from someplace else," Schwarzenegger told reporters. "I don’t think anyone right now has in mind there to take a team and steal it from some California city."
I've said before that I don't think a move to Los Angeles is a likely scenario for the Vikings. There are other teams that could quite reasonably end up becoming the occupants for this stadium. But if the occupant of this new stadium is going to come from outside of California, it's plain to see that the Vikings are on the shortlist of possible teams.
Even if we don't consider this new stadium and Ahnold's statement to be a serious threat to the Vikings' future in Minnesota, this must provide a call to action. If Minnesota can decide in 2008 to raise roughly $275 million a year for the arts and outdoors, it can contribute to funding a stadium for a team that is fundamental to the state's identity.
My hope is that the Los Angeles project makes the possibility of the Vikings leaving Minnesota a much more real scenario for people who have been naive about the suitability of the Metrodome and the need to reach a resolution on a new stadium. It's time to stop insulting the role of the Vikings in Minnesota by refusing to take their need for a new stadium seriously, and it's time to make sure the team permanently remains in the state.