After a bit more than a decade, a couple ownership groups, a couple different governors, contentious political debate, hysterics, rallies, trips to Los Angeles, and late nights, it looks like the long wait for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium is over.
All of Vikings Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief on Thursday when the bill hammered out by the conference committee was finally passed in both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Senate. I was a little late in that relief because my internet was out. Yes, after watching every up and down in the stadium saga for close to two years I missed out on the happy near-conclusion. So I'm late to the party and a little bitter about that, but this promises to be one heck of a party.
After the jump a stadium saga review and more self-congratulations.
True, there's still an element of uncertainty surrounding whether or not the Minneapolis City Council will approve the bill, but there's reason for cautious optimism on that front because the the elements the Council thought needed to be in the bill in order to support it seem to have survived the legislative process intact. Or mostly intact.
Governor Mark Dayton, at least, isn't being coy about his intentions toward the bill. For an elected official of mature years, Dayton can barely contain his desire to hop around like a kindergartener on a sugar-high. The man was so happy he didn't even look nervous like he normally does before a press conference. I don't blame the guy a bit.
While I haven't always been a fan of Dayton's handling of the stadium issue, at least the guy handled it. Unlike some of the other governors over the course of the last twelve years, Dayton wanted to see the Vikings get a new stadium. He campaigned on the issue, promoting the concept of a "people's stadium" and, had it failed to happen, rightly or wrongly, he would have been dubbed the guy who lost yet another Minnesota professional sports team. This wouldn't have been like when we lost the Minnesota Strikers soccer team, this time would have been more like when we lost the North Stars hockey team--people would have cared.
I don't know how much of a political boost getting a stadium deal passed and keeping the Vikings in Minnesota will be for Dayton, but seeing the team pack up the long ship and leave the state would have irritated both the organized labor groups that lobbied for stadium construction jobs and business interests in the state. That's even before you take into account the pissed off Vikings fans.
Senator Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and Representative Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, both seemed to age in reverse as the announcement was made, years and stress melting off the legislators who had been working on this project for more than a year. Just like Gov. Dayton, their professional reputations were handcuffed to the mired mess that the stadium situation had been before this week. Rosen and Lanning both have reputations for working on bi-partisan efforts and it paid off, with the bill relying even more heavily on bi-partisan support after Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers seemed to say, "I hate you and I hate your ass face" to the stadium bill. It took the collective pressure of support from the business community, labor interests, and fans to get the bill moving in the House despite Zellers' apparent disinclination to do so, but it got moving, kept moving and will be signed into law soon.
I like to imagine that the handsome fellows (trust me, they are) in the Vikings public relations offices recognize the effort the Daily Norseman and other Vikings blogs have put into helping make this legislation possible. Regular media maintained a disdainful kind of supposed neutrality on the stadium issue, we have consistently supported stadium efforts, telling the public about stadium hearings, rallies, and how to contact legislators. Because the Daily Norseman is a fan site rather than a news outlet, we haven't pretended we don't have a bias.
In my daydreams, the Vikings organization creates a Daily Norseman press box and the folks from ESPN and the NFL Network are crammed in with the general press. Yeah, it isn't gonna happen, and our thanks was probably included in the Wilfs' thanking of the fans, but I can dream.
In the meantime, let's party! Or, for the latecomers, let's keep partying. We've earned it.