May 16, 2006
"Tough Talk? Or Tough Politics?" by Mr. Cheer or Die


I gave pause to something Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said recently. At first, I passed it off as just political grandstanding. But the more I thought about the quote, the more it scared me to death. When asked about how things would fare should the Vikings not get a stadium funding bill passed this legislative session, he replied:

"I would be disappointed," Wilf said. "But I would hope that if we don't get the issue resolved now, we at least not forget the need for a new Vikings' home and that we just don't get put in the political backburner. We've always stated that we won't leave, but unfortunately that's something that politicians might feel is something that warrants their immediate attention."

In essence, what Wilf has done is crack the door open to start using the veiled threat of moving the team in order to accomplish his goal of building a state-of-the art facility for the Vikings in Anoka county. It is something that I had hoped the team could avoid. I'm sure that Wilf felt the same.

But now our esteemed legislatures currently in session in St. Paul have put the gun to Wilf's head since it has become abundantly clear the Vikings are third in line in the pecking order for the race to build new stadiums. They currently stand behind the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Gophers football team.

But I also see some panic from Wilf and Co. in that they are rolling out a new proposal in which it has been stated that the plan for a retractable roof will be removed from the table and we'll be looking at an open-air stadium at worst or a roof-ready stadium at best.

That smacks of desperation to me and I'm not sure that Wilf needs to go there. I'd much rather wait until 2007 to begin anew, hopefully with the Twins and Gophers out of the way. The focus can then be solely on the Vikings stadium pitch and the stadium can be approved with all the bells and whistles originally envisioned by the Vikings architects.

On the flip side, Wilf may see this year as his best opportunity to get state funding. My close, personal friend Sid Hartman wrote on Monday of the current state of affairs at the legislature. He quoted House Speaker Steve Sviggum as saying:

"We passed the Gopher bill in the House bipartisan [103 votes]. The Twins bill bipartisan [39 Republicans, 37 Democrats]. That is 76 votes. I think if you put them together in one bill it tears down from that high point. We probably are at our high water mark as far as number of votes. The Vikings are even changing the proposal this last weekend. Guys, we're in the bottom of the ninth inning. We're not in the top of the fourth. We're in the bottom of the ninth."

What Sviggum is saying is the votes are lining up as well as they will ever be. From the current high water mark, the votes in favor will most likely recede. So I can see Wilf saying, "If not now, when?" and I can't blame him one bit.

I just wish we didn't have that "build it or we move" gun pressed against our collective heads.

Posted by maasx003 at May 16, 2006 1:45 AM