If you have been following the Vikings stadium saga closely for the past week, there has been a lot of information thrown at you. As the stadium bill went through three Committees to the House to the Senate to another Committee back to the House and now back in front of the Senate today--did I lose you yet?--there have been more twists and turns than the most difficult Mario Kart track.
But Thursday marks what is hopefully the home stretch and the final major hurdle for keeping the Vikings in Minnesota. After the newly revised bill passed the House in the wee hours of Thursday morning, all signs are pointing to the Senate and Governor Mark Dayton giving the final thumbs up needed to pass the bill. (That sound you hear is every Vikings fan in the world furiously knocking on wood. We should all realize by now that when it comes to legislation, nothing's over until it's over.)
While we're not out of the woods yet, we can still take some time to reflect on what we've learned thus far throughout this incredibly arduous process:
Politics can be excruciatingly tedious and boring. No matter what your political leanings happen to be, I think we can all agree that we'd rather not have to "see how the sausage is made" when it comes to stadium legislation ever again. If the legislators weren't taking an incredibly long recess for reasons that were never totally clear, they were introducing amendments to the bill that ranged from "WTF does this have to do with anything related to the stadium bill?" to "You really have no idea what's going on, do you?" I'm sure the mindless minutiae was not unique to this bill, but it was a sobering experience for the many Vikings fans like myself that attentively watched live feeds of the House and Senate floor for the first time.
Vikings fans are an incredibly passionate bunch. There are plenty of people opposed to spending the money it takes to build a new stadium to replace the Metrodome, but it was pretty tough to hear them over the incredibly vocal support Vikings fans have showed at every turn. They relentlessly bombarded the phones and inboxes of every politician involved. They showed up outside of the Capitol like they were tailgating for a playoff game. They commented in the thousands upon thousands on our SB Nation Vikings site, Daily Norseman. Yes, an event that involved exactly ZERO passes, rushes, or tackles necessitated multiple overflow threads because the original posts were getting too bogged down by all the activity. It's amazing how something so tedious garnered such a huge response. If that isn't passion for your team, I don't know what is.
The Wilfs, the Vikings players, and the NFL have proven that they want to keep the team in Minnesota as well. It could have been very easy for the Vikings owners to close up shop. When the Minnesota legislation kept balking, stalling, and demanding more money at every turn, it would have been pretty hard to blame the Wilfs for considering a move to LA. But they have been incredibly accommodating to the constant influx of change, further evidenced by ponying up another $50 million to get the revised bill through the House. The $477 million figure would be the third highest team contribution for a stadium of all time. That's a pretty big statement to make for a team that doesn't reside in one of the country's larger markets.
It wasn't just the owners showing their support either. Many Vikings players have made appearances to help drive support for a new stadium. Cynics may cringe at parading players out on the Captiol to persuade voters, but hey, a little star power never hurt right?
Finally, it was refreshing to see the NFL front office favor tradition over dollar signs. Moving the Vikings to Los Angeles would almost certainly prove to be more lucrative for the league, but Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL seem to understand what the Vikings mean to the state of Minnesota. I'm sure that LA will get their team in the near future, but thankfully it doesn't look like the new team will arrive the same way the Lakers did.
A lot of politicians don't really know about how sports work. Listen, I get it--politicians shouldn't have to know how many yards Adrian Peterson rushed for last year in order to help run the state of Minnesota. Politics and sports rarely have to mix like this, and I think we're all very thankful for that. (Earlier in the week I Tweeted that the two were like the anti-Reese's peanut butter cup.) But still, it's pretty comical when politicos try their hand at comprehending the finer points of sport. My personal favorite was the representative that explained that the NFL had its own network and that the Vikings should try to get a TV deal like the Twins have with Fox Sports North. The "NFL Network", you say?! WHO KNEW?! And yes, I'm sure FSN could afford the multi-billion dollar TV rights required to air NFL games!
We'll all be glad when this is all over. The biggest lesson learned of all at this point. Here's to hoping that it be a very long time before Minnesota sports fans have to endure another episode like this.
Check out this SB Nation Minnesota story stream for more details on the stadium. For more on the Minnesota Vikings, go to Daily Norseman. You can also get all of your professional football news over at SB Nation's NFL hub.