The Los Angeles Vikings???

Posted: April 17, 2012 by Kodi in NFL, Purple Pride

The Minnesota Vikings latest stadium proposal was voted down in a House committee on Monday

The Vikings are going to play their 2012 season in the Dome but can Minnesota Legislators keep the team in town?

Here’s the latest on the situation . . .

Things seem to be getting worse for Minnesota Vikings fans that have seen their team finish in last place of the NFC North for the second straight season, something the franchise hasn’t done since 1966-67. In 1982 the Vikings franchise moved from the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, MN to their new home the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome located in downtown Minneapolis. The Vikings have had their ups and downs at the Dome but after the roof collapsed in the 2010 season it was clear that the team was in need of a new home, or at least a renovation.

Minnesota’s owner Zygi Wilf and the Vikings organization have been working diligently with the state’s legislature in hopes of agreeing on a new stadium deal for the team. The Vikings broke ground for the Metrodome in December of 1979, 3 years before the team’s first game in the new stadium, and Minnesota signed a lease with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission that kept the team in the Dome until 2011. That lease is up and the pressure is on the Wilf’s, the Vikings and Minnesota’s Congress to agree on a new stadium deal.

The Vikings have been trying to get a new deal approved since 2007 but now their backs are against the wall and the clock is ticking. The team hasn’t had any of their proposals accepted and on Monday night they were dealt yet another blow when a Minnesota House committee rejected a $1 billion stadium proposal on the existing Metrodome site. The proposal was turned down with a 9-6 vote in the House government operations committee with just a single Democratic representative supporting the bill, Brooklyn Park’s Michael Nelson.

This is where the dirty side of politics begins to meddle with the Minnesota Vikings chance to get a new stadium. Five fiscally conservative Republicans voted in favor of this bill while all but one DFL members were all skeptical of publicly supporting any proposal. Most of the representatives that voted against the latest proposal are located in Minneapolis or serve near in the metro area. They don’t want to support a bill that will raise certain taxes, including a 0.5% rise in sales tax, 3% rise in downtown restaurant and liquor tax as well as a 2.65% rise in a lodging tax. These DFLers would like to protect themselves by bringing the stadium proposal through a referendum, allowing the citizens to vote on the bill.

There are numerous polls that show the public’s interest in building a new stadium for the Vikings is somewhere between 60-65% . Those numbers however are from data collected statewide and not just from the district who will be paying a brunt portion of these new taxes. The DFL members of the House committee that halted the stadium proposal in their tracks are not worried about the stadium or keeping the Vikings in Minnesota but rather  keeping their constituents happy, tip-toeing on eggshells and doing things as carefully as possible in hopes of reassuring re-election.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has been on board fighting feverously to keep the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. Rybak has stated that the city of Minneapolis can invest $338 million in a new stadium without a referendum despite a mandate that calls for a citywide vote on any sports subsidy over $10 million. Rybak’s plan is only plausible if improvements to the Timberwolves Target Center as well as the city’s Convention Center are attached to the Vikings Stadium proposal. The Minneapolis plan would build a fixed-roof stadium on the existing Metrodome site for $895 million while another $95 million would be allocated to the Target and Convention Centers. The Vikings would have to play at least one season at the much smaller Gopher’s TCF Bank Stadium where they would lose revenue on seating and liquor sales.

The deal that was manipulated and eventually turned down by the House committee had the $975 million sum split three ways, The state would be responsible for $398 million which was proposed to come from tax hikes and expansion on gambling, specifically electronic pull-tabs. The city of Minneapolis was on tap for $150 million which they were going to raise by increasing sales taxes. The Wilf’s and Minnesota Vikings were going to pay $427 million with some likely assistance from the National Football League. Representative Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) was a supporter of the bill but raised a key question during the 4 hour session; “Why should we help a billionaire build a stadium he can afford to build himself?”

As difficult as it is to contemplate what the pros/cons are of a stadium that is completely funded privately, the real answer is if Minneapolis/Minnesota isn’t willing to help there are other cities desperate host a NFL team. The Minnesota Vikings could very easily follow in the footsteps of the Lakers and travel from the land of 10,000 lakes to the smog of Los Angeles, California. The Wilf’s could possibly figure out a way to privately fund the stadium efforts in Minnesota but there are very few examples of stadiums built without any public funding. Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, built Bank of America Stadium in 1996 without any taxpayer subsidies but the total cost to build it was a mere $248 million.

It is undeniable that if Minnesota agrees to fund the new Vikings stadium in any way that over time they will essentially be lining billionaire owner Zygi Wilf’s pockets. It’s a hard pill to swallow but the fact of the matter is Mr. Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings are the ones with all the power. Major sports leagues, including the NFL, have limited the number of franchises in each league boosting competition among cities large enough to support a NFL team has grown. Mr. Wilf nor any member of the Minnesota Vikings organization has yet to threaten the Minnesota legislature with the possibility of the teams imminent departure but they do have that Ace in the hole.

For now Governor Mark Dayton and many other Minnesotans have shifted their focus on next year. The only way a stadium proposal happens this year is if the Congress calls a special session which is highly unlikely. Dayton understands the looming threat telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune that “we’ve got to get a stadium deal next year or the Vikings will leave.” “We can’t have it both ways. We can’t not do a new stadium and have the Vikings remain here for very long,” Dayton said. The clock will strike zero on February 15, 2013, which is the final day for a team to inform the NFL of their intention to relocate.

Minnesotans are stuck in a difficult predicament because the city just opened the Minnesota Twins new stadium two years ago. That team’s success has dwindled since Target Field opened and the Twins have quickly seen a drop in attendance, because nobody wants to spend money on a bad product. The Vikings are in full-blown rebuilding mode and some believe that the team doesn’t deserve a new stadium, while others just don’t understand these sports fanatics. If a new stadium deal doesn’t happen Minnesota will become the first State to lose a NHL team (Northstars to Dallas), an NBA team (Lakers to L.A.) and the NFL is the Vikings choose to set sail.

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