Cheaper stadium would have been more palatable
Cash-strapped Minnesota may not have the money to build the Vikings a new football stadium but here is something you can take to the bank -- the popular NFL team is not going to sign a 40-year lease on Mall of America Field.
If the financial burden is placed where it should be, the Vikings might have a shot at staying in Minneapolis. If not, well, how does the Los Angeles Vikings sound?
The metro economy and the Minnesota Vikings will benefit the most from the stadium so let them pick up most of the cost. The state has kids to educate, the old and underprivileged to help and an infrastructure to maintain.
A handful of state legislators introduced a $731 million stadium bill Monday in St. Paul. Wednesday it was shot down in a 10-9 vote by the House state and local government operations committee. What did they expect? If you had been bitten by a rattler and you were waiting for the state Legislature to bring you the antidote in time, would you be brimming with confidence?
What has happened to pro football is frightening and fantastic at the same time. We have a very good baseball team in Minnesota that has won two world championships and yet 12 of the Top 25-rated television programs in history have been Super Bowl games. Sunday Night Football is currently one of the hot numbers and Monday Night Football has a prime time fixture since Howard Cossell, Frank Gifford and "Dandy" Don Meredith teamed up in 1970.
Maybe the astonishing rise in construction costs is the real culprit here? The "Dome" opened in 1982 for a cost of $55 million. They are asking more than 13 times as much this time. This new stadium is either going to be very big or very fancy.
Seven years before the Metrodome opened, a pal of mine and I bought general admission tickets for a Minnesota-Dallas playoff game at Metropolitan Stadium for a whopping $15 apiece. When Minnesota hosted Dallas in the playoffs last season a general admission ticket cost $96.
Inflation comes into play here of course but it would fly a lot better if this Vikings Stadium could be built for less than $500 million.
Despite Wednesday's vote, I refuse to give up the idea that the Vikings will not have a new playground. The reality of a Minnesota without the Vikings to watch, read about and kick around on Monday morning is not a happy thing to contemplate. People will spend money on sports facilities that they will not spend on bridges and roads or anything mundane. You can find people in the construction industry in Minneapolis that will tell you some preliminary contracts for a stadium job have already been signed. If true, this is a pretty good indication that some silent but powerful wheels are turning.
The Vikings are looking for a way to compete economically with other NFL teams. They may have won two straight division championships and reached the NFC Championship game last January, but they are still valued dead last in the 32-team NFL, not that it's such a bad thing to be worth more than $700 million.
If Brett Favre comes back this fall, if the NFL does not throw Kevin and Pat Williams out of the league and the Vikings play good ball, the team stands a decent chance of returning to the playoffs and perhaps even earning that Super Bowl trip that has eluded them for 33 years.
Regrettably, it's not always what happens on the field that counts the most.