March 21, 2005
Fowler Snooping Around L.A.?

fowler.jpg

Like most males, especially logicians like myself, I'm able to ponder things through to their logical, inevitable conclusion. This is a major consternation for The Wife® who I have to gently remind now and then to slow down and think things through.

The latest lack of forethought begot by my siginificant other came to critical mass in a young puppy’s cage recently. On the previous evening, this young male puppy destroyed a liner pad filled with stuffing inside his crate. The Wife® then provided the young, eager male with a blanket that also contained stuffing.

Let’s see if you can determine the hilarious conclusion.

The rest of this story may not be as much as a rib tickler for you. But you still should be able to determine the conclusion.

Currently we have the constant flirtation between the NFL and a new team in Los Angeles to provide the grist for rumor and innuendo and interpretation of signals.

I could dismiss all of this talk of the NFL putting a team in LA by making the simple observation that the NFL will actually put a team in Los Angeles the day that Paul Tagliabue gets to shovel in some dirt on the coffin of Al Davis and then hangs around to see the grave completely filled in with cement so he can be sure there isn't a breathing tube connected to the coffin.

That might avert a lawsuit from Al Davis. A while back, Davis tried to claim exclusivity over the L.A. market/territory but a court said that claim had as much merit as Jesse Ventura has political savvy. So moving a team there would be a way for Tags to say “Neener, neener, neener…” to his old nemesis. And since I believe that small-mindedness is part of the human condition, I will not rule out its role in such a decision.

The “problem” in LA is a stadium. The Coliseum is antiquated and sits in a neighborhood that resembles downtown Baghdad as much as it resembles a prosperous American metropolis.

The Rose Bowl is even less like a modern NFL stadium than the Coliseum. The city fathers have not come across with the funding and the locale for a new stadium. In the past when Hollywood Park offered to build a stadium for an NFL team on its property, the NFL politely declined. The latest “story” is that the Rose Bowl would be willing to build in the requisite luxury boxes and simultaneously to reduce the number of seats from 93,000 to 65,000 in order to get a team to play there.

The NFL has hinted that it might pay to build a new stadium in LA assuming a place can be found and somehow the infrastructure gets upgraded. If the NFL owns the venue, you can be certain that they will be the sole determinant as to which franchise is located there.

Will it be an expansion team? Or might the league look at recent L.A. experience with NFL ownership and see Georgia Frontiere and Al Davis and come to the conclusion that the only way to complete that trifecta is to add Bill Bidwell to the list? The latest NFL pronouncement is that it will NOT be an expansion team and that LA will have a team by 2008.

Some people see the situation in Minnesota as a signal that the Vikes may move west. Lame duck owner Red McCombs wanted a new stadium and tried for 6-years to have one approved. The Minnesota legislature was not going to give him one supposedly because they want “local ownership” for the Vikes and other various inane reasons.

Now a guy from Phoenix named Reggie Fowler is purportedly putting together a consortium to make an offer to buy the team. But depending on the day of the week, he either is in way over his head financially or is fat with cash because he has East Coast money behind him.

And the intrigue continues because an alternative scenario (should Fowler fail in his bid) has McCombs paying off his Metrodome lease with a $40-60M payment and moving the team to LA where he would sell it at an inflated price to a new owner.

But the intrigue continues further because Fowler is African-American and the league desperately wants an African-American owner. So much so that the NFL might actually buy the team for Fowler if he can't put together the requisite financial muscle.

This is why Al Davis is probably openly advocating Fowler. Starting to see the dots being connected?

And for all those advocates of the “the Vikes are locked into a lease” party, let me throw another wrinkle your way.

According to the Viking Update, Reggie Fowler has made contact with a fact-finding leader on getting a stadium deal in Los Angeles. I think this is something not to be taken lightly. Take for instance, recent happenings out in Blaine, the proposed future home of the Vikings much hyped new stadium.

Tom Lander, an M.A. Mortenson executive, recently requested that Blaine planning officials approve that the construction firm remove the sign on its property that said, "Proposed site for future Vikings stadium."

Golden Valley-based Mortenson wanted to market its 18-acre parcel, and the city approved because Vikings stadium planning had fizzled once again in the previous legislative session.

But that was prior to Fowler’s deal to buy the Vikings. News of the pending deal refueled stadium talk for the site at 109th Ave. N.E. and Interstate 35W.
But Minneapolis-based CSM Corp. doesn't want to wait.

Developers, land owners and city officials say stadium proponents better hasten their efforts, because they're all set to start using that land for other purposes.
"The site is still there, but it's not going to be there very long. Everything is being bought up," said Tom Ryan, mayor of Blaine.

Ryan is trying to set up a meeting with Fowler.

CSM already is constructing a 126,000-square-foot distribution center for Aveda, a division of New York-based Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. That building was approved by the city last summer, along with $1 million in tax increment financing. Aveda's new building borders the proposed stadium site and wouldn't affect the city's master plan.

However, when the next building goes up in CSM's Lexington Preserve Business Park, it will get in the way of the stadium development, said John Ryden, a broker at CB Richard Ellis who is marketing Lexington Preserve on CSM's behalf. CSM plans to break ground in the spring on an 85,000-square-foot building, said Ryden, who is nearing deals with three prospective tenants.

The city and county's 740-acre stadium master plan includes a mixture of office buildings, hotels, stores and housing. It would cost $1.6 billion to develop, with about 30 percent being funded by the state, county and city.

Mayor Ryan said even with CSM's deal, the site still can be configured to meet the needs of the stadium, but that won't be possible if the Legislature doesn't approve a stadium deal this spring.

"I don't think we're going to hold it beyond this year," he said.

So what's cooking at the Minnesota legislature then? One would think that movement to protect the state's most important sports franchise would be taking center stage. Nope.

The dopes in St. Paul have instead taken a shine to erecting a gosh dang new stadium for the University of Minneota Fighting Golden Gopher football squad. You know, the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl champions.

Let's flush this out some more. The Gophers have a commitment to play in the Metrodome through 2011, as do the Vikings. However, the Univeristy of Minnesota isn't going to be backing up the loading vans anytime soon and heading to Stanford.

Stadiums are a necessity for the Vikings and the Twins. Where is high-ranking official over in St. Paul who realizes this and can connect the links?

Where, oh where indeed.

Posted by maasx003 at March 21, 2005 11:02 AM