Thursday, November 03, 2011

Vikings Situation Starts Looking Bad

No one questions my loyalty toward the Packers. I want to see my favorite football team win, and I don't care who they play against. Obviously, though, it's a bit more special when they play the Vikings and Bears.

The fun of NFC North rivalries could end up being tempered a bit soon, thanks to uninspired, clueless politicians in Minnesota.

The Vikings stadium debate has been going on since Red McCombs bought the team in 1998, starting spewing "Purple Pride" nonsense, and quickly threatened to try to move the team to San Antonio. When he couldn't get a new stadium built in Minnesota, McCombs sold the team to Zygi Wilf in 2005. Wilf has continued the effort to build a new home for his team, but he has conducted himself with more dignity and less bluster than McCombs.

Hasn't worked.

In February, the Vikings' lease with the Metrodome will expire. There is still no deal to replace it, and I think you can safely assume the Vikings won't be renewing their agreement to play at the Metrodome without a new stadium in place.

With the end of the lease on the horizon, I fully expected Minnesota politicians to act with a sense of urgency to get financing agreed upon and prepare to put shovels in the dirt.

Instead, the politicians have acted like they've been acting in Minnesota for years. They've done virtually nothing.

This is a state that's had two government shutdowns in the last decade. This is a state that needed a decade to figure out how to get a stadium done for its Major League Baseball team. This is a state that lost its NHL franchise -- process that ... Minnesota, a state where hockey rules over all, lost its NHL franchise -- before it figured out that a new arena might be a good idea.

(Yes, I know Norm Green sucks. But let's play along, shall we?)

Now, this state is potentially on the verge of losing its NFL team. And like when it lost the NHL, there is no promise that the NFL will ever return if it leaves.

Politicians continue to do ... nothing.

It's disappointing, even for a Packer fan. No sane Packer fan wants to see the Vikings leave. No respectable fan of any team wants to see another dedicated fan -- or, in this case, tens or hundreds of thousands of them -- go through the agony of seeing his/her favorite team move.

Same goes here. Vikings fans are generally good fans, just like everyone else's fans. There are bad apples in every fanbase, but those bad apples shouldn't make you want to see a team move. For a fan of a team, there is nothing more hurtful or agonizing.

And to see politicians -- not greedy, unreasonable owners -- doing a team in makes it even sadder.

The latest news on Thursday is encouraging, and hopefully it's not too late.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican bill authors met on Thursday morning and pledged to pass a Vikings stadium bill this year, with gaming as a funding source.

"If you're tired of it, so am I," said Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead), co-author of the stadium bill that was presented this past spring. "I think the public is tired of it too. We need to make a decision."

Dayton announced last month he hoped to present a stadium plan on Monday and call a special session before Thankgiving. But that was thrown into limbo on Wednesday, after an email surfaced from House Speaker Kurt Zellers saying he wouldn't support a special session on the stadium bill and questioning the urgency of the issue.

If a deal is done, the Vikings will stay. But if nothing is done by Feb. 1, all bets are off.

Should the unthinkable happen, I think we all know who to point the finger at.

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