In the year that this SB Nation regional site has been active on the network, we've seen a lot of things about the Minnesota Vikings, from the roof collapse to the end of Brett Favre's iron man streak to the 2011 NFL Draft and the trials and travails that the team has gone through this past season. Through it all, we thoroughly hope that you've enjoyed our coverage of the team.
Unfortunately, thanks to the actions of a few individuals in St. Paul, in a few months the Vikings might become the responsibility of our friends at SB Nation Los Angeles.
Yesterday, Minnesota Speaker of the House Kurt Zellars came out and declared that he would not support a special session to discuss a potential Minnesota Vikings' stadium. This comes on the heels of Governor Mark Dayton declaring that any potential tax increase to support funding for the stadium would be subject to a referendum, which a) is in direct contrast to what happened when the Minnesota Twins wanted Target Field built a few years back, and b) has absolutely zero chance of passing when it comes to an actual vote.
Now, the Governor can still call a special session of the legislature whenever he wants. . .he's the Governor, he can do that. However, as the Speaker of the House, Zellars controls the agenda for the meeting, meaning that they could basically meet for ten minutes and declare the session over. In that case, then, calling a special session would be a worthless endeavor.
Many knee-jerk reactionaries out there will chalk this up to a case of the Minnesota Vikings and owner Zygi Wilf attempting to hold the state of Minnesota hostage. The reality of it is that the Vikings have been playing this game with the state for over a decade, through two Vikings ownership groups (Wilf now and Red McCombs before him) and three Minnesota governors (Jesse Ventura, Tim Pawlenty, and now Dayton). Through all of that time, the Vikings have done everything that the state has asked them to do in their efforts to secure a new stadium.
Minnesota told the Vikings that they would have to get in line behind the Minnesota Twins. The Vikings did that, and the Twins got funding for Target Field approved without a referendum. . .a referendum that would have failed, much like a referendum for a Vikings' stadium would likely fail if it went to the public.
Minnesota then told the Vikings that they would have to get in line behind Gophers football. The Vikings did that, too, and watched as the beautiful new TCF Bank Stadium went up on the U of M campus.
Minnesota then told the Vikings that they would have to find a viable local partner. The team did that. . .but it's not the local partner that so many folks want, apparently, as the team went with the folks from Ramsey County and the old Twin Cities Army Ammuntion Plant over Minneapolis, a move that has apparently angered a lot of the high and mighty politicians that now stand in the way of the Vikings' endeavors.
The state of Minnesota, in this case, is Lucy van Pelt, and the Minnesota Vikings are playing the role of Charlie Brown. Every time that the Vikings appear as though they're finally on the verge of kicking the darn ball through the uprights and getting a successful conclusion to their situation, the state yanks the ball away. For the last decade, it's been one thing after another. . .another provision, another roadblock, another obstacle.
The Vikings' lease with the Metrodome expires on January 1, 2012, as soon as the final gun sounds for the 2011 season finale when the team hosts the Chicago Bears. At that point, the Minnesota Vikings are, essentially, free agents, and can negotiate with whomever they choose. The team has also, repeatedly, said that they absolutely, positively will not extend the lease with the Metrodome absent a deal for a new stadium.
If the state of Minnesota thinks that Zygi Wilf is going to accept some sort of hometown discount to keep the team in Minnesota after the treatment he's received on the matter since gaining ownership of the team, they're likely in for a shock. Wilf has pledged over $300 million of his own money (in addition to another $100 million from the National Football League), one of the largest private contributions to any new stadium project in history. If January 1 comes around and he still doesn't have a deal worked out with Minnesota, he certainly isn't going to increase that contribution. . .especially not when he can get a new stadium with a lesser contribution somewhere else.
It's going to cost the state of Minnesota if they keep screwing around with this, whether it's because they will have to kick in more to keep the Vikings here, or whether they'll have to build a stadium and a substantially higher cost in the future to attempt to lure a team back here. And that's if the NFL would let a team move to Minnesota. . .after all, the Vikings would be the third team that Minnesota has lost, along with the Lakers and the North Stars. That sort of reputation wouldn't exactly make them the most viable landing spot for a team looking to relocate.
The Vikings are an institution in the state of Minnesota. If the state allows them to pack up the moving trucks and head for the West Coast (or anywhere else), the chances of the National Football League returning to the state are somewhere between slim and none. There are 59 days to get something worked out as of today, and you have a Speaker of the House that is, apparently, dead set on not letting anything happen on the matter.
So, if in a couple of months you're getting your Vikings coverage from our neighbors to the west, just remember. . .Zygi Wilf tried.