At the time I am writing this article, prospects for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings are bleak at best. During this session of the Minnesota Legislature, there have been proposals left and right. Locations varying from downtown Minneapolis to the suburbs. Different designs, different financing options. It has run the gamut.
Things seemed to be looking up for the Vikings a couple weeks ago as a stadium bill was gaining steam and support at the Minnesota State Capitol. However, earlier this week, a key committee voted the proposal down, making the bill all but dead-upon-arrival.
The NFL sent, the commissioner of the league, to Saint Paul today to talk with Gov. Dayton and other legislators.
The NFL means business. The Vikings have been fighting for a new stadium for at least a decade. It is a very serious possibility the team could leave the Twin Cities. So, what happens if the Vikings do in fact leave the Twin Cities? Well, some things come to mind.
As far as I know, Minnesota would be the first to lose three professional teams in three different leagues. Atlanta has lost two NHL teams. Los Angeles has lost two NFL teams. But, Minnesota has lost franchises in the NBA and NHL already. Minnesota almost lost the MLB's Twins twice. And there is a real possibility the Vikings could be Minnesota's NFL departure.
I know what will happen. As soon as the last moving van departs the Metrodome for Los Angeles, a Legislative committee will be formed to essentially beg the NFL for an expansion franchise. Minnesota could have kept the North Stars if renovations to the Met Center had been made. Or even if the team had gone to the Target Center. But, the Stars left for Dallas, and Minnesota spent $135 million for a new arena for a new team.
The NBA's Minneapolis Lakers departed for Los Angeles in 1960, because of lack of a decent facility. Minnesota could have kept the Lakers too, but we opted for a new team and $105 million for Target Center. If the Vikings leave, we're talking billions to get the NFL back. And, of course, we would need a new stadium. So, why not build a new one for the team we have?
Just for a second, say Minnesota did get an NFL expansion franchise. You're looking at millions for an expansion team: fees and such. And, the NFL will not award an expansion franchise with the Metrodome as a home site. It won't happen.
But, does the NFL really want to lose the NFC North rivalries? Vikings-Packers? Vikings-Bears? Then, there's the issue of division realignment. The NFL worked so hard to get this geographical division thing going, and now the Vikings run the possibility of ruining the whole thing.
Could be as easy as moving the Kansas City Chiefs or the Indianapolis Colts out of the AFC. But then, the AFC would be out of whack. The Vikings moving could have pretty serious consequences.
Things could change. Money for the Minnesota Wild's Xcel Energy Center was in dire straits, but the arena was built. The Twins' Target Field bill went down to the last hour of the Legislative session in 2006. Minnesota, when it wants to, does find a way to get things done.
Here's a suggestion: in order to receive state money to build TCF Bank Stadium, the University of Minnesota had to raise a certain amount in private funding. Fabulous idea. The Vikings, along with the $400-some million they are contributing, the state should also require the team to raise 20% in private funding before they get the state's share to build the stadium.
Dan Cole, a broadcaster on the Twin Cities' KFAN sports radio, says that Fortune 500 companies in Minnesota should each chip in $20-some million each to help build the stadium. That idea could work too. Cole even said today that certain seating areas or gate areas of the stadium could be named for contributors.
There isn't much time left in the Legislative session either. They hope to adjourn in a matter of days. As far as the Vikings stadium saga goes: stay tuned.