Stadium Issues Archives

March 25, 2008
Addition by Subtraction

Earlier in March, I made a case on YouTube for the Vikes to offer whatever draft day picks they can muster and wave them in front of Miami Dolphin's Czar Bill Parcells in order to obtain discouraged DE Jason Taylor. It i starting to look like the Vikes might be looking to obtain even more draft day picks (or players) in dumping Bryant McKinnie from the team after his last brush with the law.

Let's face it, McKinnie has never quite reached his full potential with the team. McKinnie was once looked at as a Pro Bowl caliber offensive tackle. Could the Vikes be in a addition by subtraction situation? Let's review.

In 2001, McKinnie was the winner of the Outland Trophy, finished 8th overall in voting for the 2001 Heisman Trophy, was the CNN Sports Illustrated "Player of the Year" and a key part of the Hurricanes' 2001 National Championship. Also at UM, he was a roommate with current NFL tight end Jeremy Shockey. Maybe that's where the bad boy stuff started? Curse you Jeremy Shockey!

McKinnie was the seventh overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, and he replaced Todd "Offsides" Steussie at left tackle. McKinnie has been the starting left tackle for the Vikings ever since. At 6'8" and 335 lbs with size 18 EEE feet, McKinnie is the largest offensive lineman on the Vikings roster.

In October 2005, McKinnie was charged with a misdemeanor for his involvement in the 2005 Minnesota Vikings boat cruise scandal. McKinnie had been accused of performing oral sex on a dancer and receiving oral sex, along with three other men, from a dancer in a public area of the boat.

On May 26, 2006, McKinnie pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and being a public nuisance on a watercraft in connection with the Love Boat scandal. He agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 48 hours of community service. McKinnie was not suspended.

On September 9, 2006, the NFL announced it would fine McKinnie and fellow Viking Fred Smoot one game check for the incident. For McKinnie, the fine amounted to approximately $41,000 and brought the matter to complete resolution. A day after the fine was levied, McKinnie was given a raise and a seven year extension of his contract worth $48 million. Ouch!

Then there was the Channel 5 blow-up. Channel 5 is the Twin Cities ABC affiliate KSTP that touted a discovery from “a tip? that was called into the station claiming that McKinnie and Mewelde Moore dumped trash bags at a construction dumpsite. The eight bags that the station reports were discovered during a dumpster dive produced what was touted as “explosive new evidence? that was voluntarily turned over the Hennepin County investigators after being sifted through by Channel 5 personnel – and claim to provide a link between Vikings players and the infamous boat trip on Lake Minnetonka.

Among the discoveries were fireworks, disposal cameras, pizza boxes (if, from the boat, were clearly delivered ahead of time), empty beer cans, a single champagne bottle, as well as more salacious items like an empty box of KY Jelly, empty boxes of the feminine hygiene products and a discarded pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear.

The story focused on different items found – namely a piece of paper with female names and flight arrival times and a twig that, for all appearances, looked like a large stem of a marijuana plant. The station identified the stick as a “marijuana bud,? but it also displayed a hollowed-out Swisher Sweet cigar – often used as a “blunt? to conceal marijuana inside a cigar wrapper. From what was seen on TV, the “marijuana bud? in question wasn’t visible, but discarded cigar tobacco and cigar leaves were shown.

McKinnie has always been very vocal to the point of disruption. In February 2006, the Vikings were considering trading quarterback Daunte Culpepper and McKinnie told the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "We already made one mistake (trading former Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss). Don't do it twice (by trading Culpepper). If that's the case, let me go." Culpepper was traded shortly afterwards to the Miami Dolphins but McKinnie re-signed with the Vikings regardless.

Most recently, McKinnie was arrested in Miami in the early morning of February 24, 2008, on aggravated battery charges, in connection with a nightclub fight. He was also charged on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Authorities were called to Club Space after a fight broke out. McKinnie had been thrown out by a nightclub security guard and was arguing and spit on Eric Otero, according to a police report.

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Otero, 32, said he wouldn't press charges if McKinnie left. Authorities said that he then went to a nearby strip club, but later returned to Club Space and fought with Otero again. Miami Police found McKinnie in the middle of a large crowd, throwing punches and again yelling obscenities," according to the police report.

Police told McKinnie to stop. He refused and boarded a bus. The bus driver was ordered not to drive away. But despite beating up bouncers with metal poles, Bryant McKinnie is actually a good guy - if you were to believe Luther Campbell.

The 2 Live Crew virtuoso & sometime radio show host appeared on Dan Le Batard’s WAXY-AM show on Tuesday. The Miami Hurricanes fan showed his support for the vicious Vikings partygoer, saying Bryant wasn’t to blame for blowing up.

Campbell claims McKinnie went after the bouncer after the guy slapped a phone out of the Vikings lineman’s hand:

"You have to be out of your mind to slap a phone out of a 6-8, 350-pound man. That’s like me going up to Kimbo (Slice) and slapping the phone out of Kimbo hand. You know you’re gonna catch a beatdown.?

Luther lauds Bryant for actually being an otherwise “responsible guy“. He points out that when McKinnie’s in Miami, he always rents a shuttle bus when he & his pals it the town: “He dont’ even drive, cause he don’t wanna get caught with a DUI.?

Campbell also points out McKinnie’s generous nature when socializing at the local watering holes: “He spends at least $20,000 a night, and I’m not exaggerating.?

Usually a part of Bryant party plans, Luther says he wasn’t there the night McKinnie got physical with security - but wishes he was:

“I’m sad I wasn’t there, ’cause I’d have stopped it. It’s not worth it, and that’s the first thing I would have told him. ‘Look, it’s not worth it. This dude it not worth it.’?

So, all of this could have been avoided if McKinnie had just invited along Luther Campbell, voice of reason, to his night out. Pity.

Link to the full interview is here.

At any rate, Brad Childress did not mince words when discussing McKinnie's future with the team after the Miami incident. Childress said he faces a potentially "difficult" decision on the future of McKinnie.

Let's say the Vikes do dump McKinnie. Per the STrib:

"Essentially, either move (release or trade) would subtract roughly $1.5 million from their pool of available cap money, assuming the Vikings absorbed the hit in 2008. Written a different way, McKinnie counts $7.424 million against the 2008 salary cap if he is on the roster in 2008 and about $8.9 million if he is not. In the latter scenario, he would be off the books entirely in 2009. In today’s world of cap largesse, the release or trade of a high-paid veteran is not nearly as damaging as it once was. Even if they shipped out McKinnie today, the Vikings would still have about $15 million left in cap space to sign their draft choices and do a few contract extensions."

Later on, Childress reiterated that “Bryant is entitled to his due process? but added: “I’d just say that we’ve been consistent. The Wilfs have been consistent with the way we want the Vikings to be represented. I know what Zygi’s values are, and I know what my values are and I know what our collective Viking values are. … It’s difficult.?

So, back to McKinnie: What to do?

Option 1: Release him outright. Not the best choice. Granted, McKinnie may be suspended anyway so why not create some roster room. But I'd rather we get something, anything.

Option 2: Trade McKinnie. Put McKinnie and package a draft pick or two and place him under Parcells' nose. McKinnie returns to his Miami base and the 'Fins gain a starting OT. The Vikes get Taylor in return. Addition by subtraction.

It could certainly be that the Vikes might use a first round pick on a blue chip OT. With that in mind, I like OT Chris Williams out of Vanderbilt. He is imposing at 6'6" and 315 lbs. The only downfall is Williams has played the left side of the line during his college career and he would have to be trained to play the right. And he is heading into his senior season so I'm not sure he will declare.

Another possibility would be Sam Baker out of Southern Cal. Baker lists at 6'5" and 312 lbs. Baker also plays the left side of the line but may be more polished that Williams at this point.

Thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Additional Stadium News

This past Sunday I wrote to the slim chances that the Vikes push for a new stadium would get any attention from the Minnesota legislature this year. In fact, Monday my "close, personal friend" Sid Hartman voiced his agreement.

"Gov. Tim Pawlenty realizes the importance of the Vikings getting a new stadium, but he claims there isn't any way this came happen -- now or later -- unless the Vikings get a partner, such as Hennepin County, to get the project built. There is no chance of a vote at this legislative session, although there might be some conversation about what can be done in the future."

There was a curious statement in Sid's column as well that left me scratching my head.

"Target Center and Xcel Energy Center each are looking for $60 million to repair the arenas, but from the tone of members of the Legislature, there isn't any interest in meeting those demands."

Now, the Target Center I can understand as it is becoming an old arena. But why does the Xcel Energy Center need $60 Large to address repairs? Anyone have a clue? Please leave a comment and enlighten us. I was just there to watch my first professional lacrosse game (Go Swarm!) and will be back this coming Saturday to watch the Blue Man Group and have seen no need for repair. So, I'm confused.

Game Lounge

I'd like to hear from fellow DIRECTV subscribers who use Game Lounge. This is a channel on DIRECTV that turns your TV into a world of interactive fun. It was free this past weekend and we "lost the weekend" by playing classic board games. Loads of fun, just not sure it is worth $6 a month extra.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 23, 2008
Zygi Writes Me a Letter

I received a letter from Mr. Zygi Wilf earlier this week. Yeah, I'm sure many of you received the same letter...but allow me the impression that Zygi actually wrote me personally. Here's the letter:

Dear Brian Maas:

With the majority of the Minnesota Vikings roster - including impact free agents WR Bernard Berrian, RB/special teams standout Maurice Hicks, FB Thomas Tapeh and S Madieu Williams - returning to Winter Park for voluntary offseason workouts this week, the anticipation of the upcoming 2008 NFL season continues to grow for the team and our fans. This organization is committed to bringing a Super Bowl championship to the state of Minnesota, and we believe the foundation for long-term success is being put in place.

As excited as we are about the potential of our team on the field, we are also confident about our efforts to secure a future home for the Vikings in Minnesota. In the past you have shown your support for the Vikings' new stadium plans by joining the grassroots coalition, Minnesota Momentum. Because of your help, Minnesota Momentum's impact was immediate in 2006, as the coalition recruited thousands of Vikings and NFL fans. Now with our new plans for a Minneapolis stadium taking shape, it is time for us to ask for your help once again.

Stadium Development Proposal
Working in partnership with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC), the public body that owns the Metrodome, the Vikings are continuing to move forward on a public-private partnership that will open a new stadium on the Metrodome site in the year 2012.

The current stadium proposal includes three critical elements that go beyond hosting Vikings home games:

A retractable-roof stadium that will give Minnesotans a state-of-the-art venue that can be used year-round for amateur sports, trade shows, community and cultural events as well as national and international happenings.
A Winter Garden light rail train station that will serve as a connecting point for the future Central Corridor light rail line and the existing Hiawatha line.
A privately financed redevelopment of the entire Downtown East area that will include office buildings, residences, shops and restaurants that will create jobs and boost the economy. This exciting project will bring a renewed energy to the Downtown East area of Minneapolis.
We are committed to investing in this community and this team and we believe each of these pieces, in conjunction with the others, will be a significant asset to the Twin Cities, state and region.

Legislative Update
Given the feedback we have received from state leaders, it is clear a stadium decision will not be reached this year. Nonetheless, with rising construction costs and the team's Metrodome lease set to expire after the 2011 season, we are determined to stay on a 2012 timeline to open the new stadium. Financing a stadium in the spring of 2009 keeps us on that 2012 timeline and prevents considerable cost inflation.

Last December, state leaders told NFL executives visiting Minnesota that 2009 is the year to resolve this issue. While we remain positive about a future home in Minnesota for the Vikings, much work remains between now and the 2009 Legislative Session. We need your help. If you are still committed to this cause, please help us by communicating with your State Representative, State Senator and the Governor this summer and fall about the need to resolve the Vikings' stadium issue in 2009.

Also, please take a few minutes to refer a friend. If you would like more information on the Vikings' stadium efforts and what being a member of Minnesota Momentum includes, please visit www.minnesotamomentum.com.

Thank you for your continued support and passion for the Minnesota Vikings!

Sincerely,

Zygi Wilf

Now, I'm usually a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, but Zygi has zero chance of getting any stadium discussion going this year. It simply is not going to be a priority at the top of the legislative food chain. And the average Minnesota tax payer is not going to clamor to pony up for a new football stadium with 1) home foreclosures sky-rocketing, 2) gas prices well over $3 a gallon, 3) the Dems in the Minnesota legislature voting to raise gasoline taxes, the metro wide sales tax and license tab fees, and 4) the price of a Adrian Peterson jersey is well over $120.

But, if you are so inclined you can help keep the momentum moving forward. You can help by contacting your legislators and telling them that you support the plan to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and resolve the Vikings stadium issue.

Please contact your state senator and state representative, as well as contacting legislative leaders. To find your representatives and their contact information, just click here or call the House or Senate information office.

House Information Office: 651-296-2146 or 1-800-657-3550
Senate Information Office: 651-296-0504 or 1-888-234-1112

Here are some things you can tell your legislators:

1) The Vikings stadium plan should be considered this year.
2) I support the plan to build a new Minnesota Vikings because it will resolve the Vikings stadium issue and provide a significant boost to our state’s economy.
3) The Vikings have a plan that makes good sense for our state. The time to act is now.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:19 AM
February 20, 2008
It's the Stadium Stupid

It's that time of year when my thoughts often turn to the warmer climates. I believe there may be some truth to Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), especially as March approaches and we know there may be six weeks more before we see our first buds and song-birds.

Los Angeles has a nice climate. And as I've been speaking to for years, it may be one day that our beloved football team is relocated to sunny California and I'll have to decide if I am to follow, stay put, or completely cut the cord in disgust.

To tell you the truth, I don't believe that the Vikings will ever move. It will come down to some back-room deal (oh, Hubert H. Humphrey we need you!) or a last minute savior will step in and barter some type of financial deal. Be that as it may, I found myself in this funk over a recent posting by my close, personal friend Sid Hartman who penned this exceptionally annoying diatribe:

"Zygi Wilf made the mistake of saying he would never move the Vikings under any circumstances when he purchased the team.

Well, the NFL representatives who met recently with the staff of Gov. Tim Pawlenty painted a different picture, making it pretty clear the Vikings can't make it financially and would continue to finish last in the league in revenue if a new stadium isn't built before the Vikings' Metrodome lease runs out after the 2011 season.

Unfortunately, the current economic climate makes it tough to build stadiums. Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the Super Bowl that the NFL wants to return to the Los Angeles area but doesn't want to expand, so fans of teams such as the Vikings, Buffalo and Jacksonville need to be concerned about relocation."

I found this annoying because it didn't tell us anything new. It was just more blathering to stir the pot and cause angst amongst the anti-stadium crowd and heartburn amongst the pro-stadium crowd.

Without a doubt, 2011 is quickly approaching but there is still time to get a deal done. But this late in the game means that the Vikes would need to find a temporary home while the Metrodome is razed and the new stadium built....which is Zygi's wish. Where goest though, then?

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Pure logic would dictate that the Vikes would play in the new Gopher stadium....and it is a beaut. The new college stadium opens on Sept. 12, 2009. I think I'd get me a sky-box as these look very plush.

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The important thing to note is that even with a late deal to agree upon funding for a new Vikings stadium, the team would not be homeless. I think we could all put up with a outdoor stadium in a college atmosphere for a few years until the new Vikings home is completed.

As for L.A., Buffalo is going to end up in Toronto. The Vikes are staying. And I doubt the NFL would let a stadium that is on the menu of Super Bowl rotations move very easily. The NFL is not going to expand at this point. So what happens? Status quo. Los Angeles will continue to hold other teams hostage in stadium plays. But they have their own stadium issues.

In April of 2006, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, center, Councilman Bernard Parks, left, and members of the Coliseum Commission toured the stadium and gave a news conference to discuss a presentation to the National Football League and stadium improvements.

Then came these telling quotes. First, Mayor Villaraigosa released a statement in which he said, "While I remain committed to bringing a professional team to Los Angeles, it is time to read the scoreboard: the Coliseum is no longer a viable option for the NFL."

Coliseum general manager Pat Lynch, a spokesman for the Coliseum Commission, said if the potential of the NFL horning in on USC's place as the stadium's main tenant is the school's major objection, then that obstacle could be overcome.

"We're not holding our breath on the NFL. We're moving on," Lynch said this afternoon. "That's why we're engaged in these negotiations with USC. So nobody's sitting here holding out any kind of place-holder for the NFL."

"Over the last two years, the city has made every effort to bring an NFL team to the L.A. Coliseum . . ." Villaraigosa said in the statement. "The Coliseum is and should remain the home of the USC Trojans. I am committed to seeking a long-term agreement with USC that protects the public interest, preserves jobs and benefits the entire community of South Los Angeles."

Hmmm, doesn't seem like such a slam-dunk to relocate a team only to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire of another stadium debate.

Thoughts?

Real or Staged

Go ahead and take two minutes and view this little video and let me know if you think this is real or staged. If it is real.....I may never drive again.

Eclipse

If you plan to watch the lunar eclipse tonight and don't know what time to beging viewing in your area, this animated site provides you with what you can expect to see by time zone. For us in the CST, the eclipse will begin at 7:43 pm, but gets real neat from 9 pm on as the moon enters the umbra (Earth's shadow) and takes on an orange-red glow.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:11 AM
December 4, 2007
Stadium Hopes?

There is a great recap over on the Greet Machine on the current state of Zygi's hope to build a new Vikings stadium. I don't think I can state this any better.

I especially like how the GM poses the question, "where will they move to?" As I suggested to the GM, I'd say we might even get a Buffalo (let's play a game in Canada, eh) situation where a few of the Vikes games are played outside in another city. Can you imagine the Vikes playing in the Fargo Dome?

But the GM is right. Where would they go if a stadium deal can't get done here? Las Vegas is just not ready. San Antonio is possible but that's something Dallas and Houston would not approve as that would eat into their market share.

Zygi will eventually sell. That's the key to look for. What will be the intent of the owner after Zygi? Keep the team here or buy with the intent to move? At least with Zygi, we have his promise to never move the team as long as he is owner.

Keep your chin up! Playoffs are coming!!!!

Posted by maasx003 at 10:26 AM
May 16, 2006
"Tough Talk? Or Tough Politics?" by Mr. Cheer or Die


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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 1:45 AM
April 18, 2006
"Help the Vikes by Helping the Twins" by Mr. Cheer Or Die & Shane Nackerud

I've never been a huge Minnesota Twins fan. Oh, I read the box score each morning and I watched the '87 and '91 World Series and was leaping off roof tops when they won the two championships. But ever since the move indoors, the whole baseball thing has lost its sheen for me. I just refuse to go indoors for baseball when the sky is blue and the birds are singing. I feel a brat and a beer taste best when enjoyed outside, as God intended.

Take last weekend for instance. The Twins hosted the hated New York Yankees. They drew well. Very well. The first two games were fantastic....from what I read about. But just think of how marvelous those games would have been if they had been played outdoors!?!? It would have been S.R.O. and the crowd stoked like a bunch of Hulkamaniacs who had too much sugar and had drank three or four espressos. It would have been the marquee event of the spring. Instead, most people observed it by watching on television or reading about it in the local rags. It was a non-event for the casual fan when it should have been the buzz around every water-cooler in every office building in the Metro area.

I support a new Twins stadium as much as I do a new Vikings stadium. And the bonus for Vikings fans is if the Twins stadium finally gets done, it clears the pathway for Zygi and Team to get theirs done. That's why I invited the Greet Machine's Shane Nackerud too join me in getting out a very important message to all the locals. Here is Shane.

"This is a Very Important Week" by Shane Nackerud

• I hesitate to say that this is one of the most important weeks in Twins history; we've heard that before. But the outcomes of this week could indeed dictate the future of the franchise. Of course, I am talking about the House Tax committee hearings on the evenings of Wednesday and Thursday this week. I was forwarded a note from Dave St. Peter, President of the Twins, in which he had this to say:

In a unique move, Representative Phil Krinkie, chair of the House Tax Committee, has decided to hold two meetings to hear the Twins bill. The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 19 at 3 p.m. at the Capitol where testimony in favor of the bill will occur. The second meeting will take place on Thursday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at the Oak Grove Middle School auditorium in Bloomington where testimony in opposition to the bill will occur.

We are currently working to develop a slate of people to testify on Wednesday in favor of the bill including Twins fans, community organizations, former players, business and labor representatives.

Given the uncertain nature of Thursday’s meeting at the school, we are working to mobilize as many fans as possible to attend and demonstrate their support for the Twins bill by filling up the auditorium. This is where you come in. We strongly encourage ALL Twins [fans] to attend Thursday evenings’s hearing at Oak Grove Middle School ... And, we ask that all supporters wear something Twins-related to demonstrate your support of the team and the new stadium.

This is serious. The more I think about this "unique move" by Phil Krinkie the more I am bothered by it. Supporters of the bill have to travel to St. Paul in the middle of the afternoon to be heard, while Krinkie is giving those in opposition to the bill an evening start time and an easier place to get to. And all of this is being done under the guise of brining the democratic process to the people. That is a load of crap. If each side of the debate was given equal treatment, if each hearing was being held at Oak Grove Middle School in Bloomington, I might agree. In fact, that would be exciting. But this is such a blatant attempt to give one side of the debate more public sway it is really quite sickening. It is a chess move more than it is an example of democracy at work, and I sincerely hope Krinkie's move totally backfires on him.

If you are planning on attending the "debate" on Thursday evening here are the driving directions to Oak Grove Middle School from Minneapolis: Take I-35W south to the 106th Street Exit. Go west on 106th Street and arrive at 1300 W. 106th Street.

Twins fans should fill the auditorium. Of course we should be respectful of the debate, but I would also hope that cheers could go up anytime something favorable is said concerning the bill.

• And speaking of the "debate" ... hasn't it all been said already? Seriously, are any legislators' minds actually going to be changed on Wednesday or Thursday as a result of the testimony we've all heard so many times before? On Wednesday, Twins fans will speak in favor of the bill from an emotional and historical standpoint. Minneapolis business leaders will speak in favor of the bill in terms of downtown vibrancy and safety, not to mention what 81 games will do for Warehouse district bars and restaurants. Minnesota charities will speak in favor of the bill in terms of all the good that MLB and the Twins do for our state, and how much money the Twins have donated to state charities over the years. The Minneapolis Department of Parks and Recreation will probably speak on how valuable it is to have MLB in our state and how much it promotes baseball and the use of the ball fields in the city. And the AFL-CIO will probably speak to the fact of how important it will be to have all those jobs for the construction workers of the Twin Cities.

On Thursday night the same old antagonists will also give the same old tired arguments. Kenneth Zapp, an economist from Metro State University, will speak yet again against the plan saying the County is giving too much of the revenue to the Twins and how we should negotiate a deal more like the one in St. Louis (which was a pretty sweet deal for the Cardinals). Laura Lehmann of "Citizens for a Ballpark Referendum" will ask for ... yes, you guessed it! A referendum! Bruce Pomerantz, a citizen from Fridley will tell the commitee that if the Twins get this deal, then it sets a precedent that the Vikings will take advantage of (God forbid!). And Daniel Dobson of the "No Stadium Tax Coalition" will say the proposal is neither fair nor honest to taxpayers. This is all a given.

Here is what I think: we've heard all the same arguments. What is the point of all of this? The Tax committee hearing could get done in 20 minutes by first voting for or against a referendum amendment and then voting for or against the actual bill. 20 minutes! The rest of this is all for the benefit of grandstanding legislators. I ask again: is any of this "debate" actually going to change the mind of any legislator? I seriously wonder ...

• And speaking of legislators and other politicians, Joe Soucheray hit the nail on the head by lambasting our illustrious politicians while describing his 23rd reversal to now being in favor of the Hennepin County ballpark plan:

What turned me around this time was a photograph in the Enemy Paper on Tuesday morning about a guy in Washington, D.C., who works as a female impersonator at a club that would be demolished to make way for a new, publicly subsidized ballpark for the Washington Nationals. This guy was opposed to a new park and said that the only time he would go there "would be for protests.'' The implication seemed to be that hard-working female impersonators should not have to pay for a new ballpark for millionaire owners.

That's it. I'm on board. When it comes down to a new ballpark or preserving the working environment for female impersonators, I'm going with baseball.

Hilarious. But what Joe had me nodding my head even more over was the fact that our politicians are weak and "without fortitude." They are, quite frankly, afraid of their own shadows and wouldn't know a good deal if it bit them in the ass.

Minneapolis has no effective leadership. They stand to gain a $500 million public-works project and don't have a single solitary soul in the elected ranks who can make a case for it because they are all afraid of their various constituencies.

The state of Minnesota could get a new outdoor stadium and keep baseball for 3 cents on $20. We provide our public assistance recipients with enough money to afford 3 cents on $20. Well, people say, if it's a state benefit, maybe it should be a statewide tax then. It could be, I suppose, if you had anybody in the state who could get something done. I believe it is called taking the bull by the horns.

From the governor on down we have elected people who are gridlocked by conflicting ideologies the minute they take office.

I couldn't have said it any better myself. Shane over and out. Thanks for having me, Brian. Back to you

My Plea by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Thanks Shane! Well put and authored as usual! So local Vikes fans, here is my plea: Support your Vikings stadium chances by supporting the Twins stadium chances by showing up Thursday night in Bloomington wearing your purple and putting your ass in a chair that would otherwise be filled by a anti-stadium bum. And if you do go, take some photos and send them to me and I'll post them here on the VU.

I would be there but I will be working my second job. But I will be there in spirit. I hope many of you can find the time to represent all Vikings fans who cannot be there and help your sporting brothers get their long overdue stadium finally approved and ground broken. A sincere thank-you to one and all who can.

I Can't Sleep by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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I think this will be the final word but I can't be sure. You see, I tried the newest offering from Coca-Cola today. It is a coffee-flavored drink called Coca-Cola Blak. I bought one at my local market over lunch and tried it out. Mmmmm, pretty good I thought. The first heart palpatation kicked in and I had my second swig and whoooooooooooYeahthatisrightadrinkthatcombinescaffeinewithevenmorecaffeinethathadmypulse
goingnorthof169! ManInevergotsomuchdoneinjustonedayandIstillfeltlikeIhadsomuchtod.
HOOOOOOWHEEEEEE! ThatissomegoodstuffwhyIthinkI'llhavesomeforbreakfasttomorrow! ScrewStarbucksandPopTartsBlakisallIneedBABEE!

When the wife had to give me the second dose of Valium to bring the resting heart rate to under 110 and my blood-pressure to a comfortable 200 over 120 she seemed to be calmed because, "your eyeballs are finally retracting into your skull."

Hey, give it a shot. Especially if you have stayed up all night singing at your local Karaoke bar and just remembered you have an important presentation to give the boss at 8.

I like it, I like it! You will too! I may make it the VU's official tailgate heart starter!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:48 AM
March 2, 2006
One Billion Dollars

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Zygi Wilf is no more Dr. Evil than is Carl Pohlad or any other sports owner looking to compete in a sport wherein success hinges on every nickel and dime the team can earn in order to then upgrade the personnel. So, if you are anti-stadium, just leave now and return to your dark hole in the ground from whence you came.

Under Wilf ownership, the Vikings are taking the message of a new stadium in Anoka County to the state of Minnesota. And it's not a wobbling duck of a Joe Kapp pass but rather a Warren Moon precisionly thrown tight spiral. I received the following e-mail (part of a mass e-mail campaign) from the greatest coach in Minnesota sports history earlier this week:

Dear Brian,

Thanks again for joining Minnesota Momentum to show your support for the plan to build Northern Lights – Minnesota’s Sports, Retail & Entertainment Center!

Remember, Northern Lights is an important economic development project, with $1 billion in private investment to boost our state’s economy and create jobs. Northern Lights will be located in Blaine, which is in Anoka County. It will include a new stadium for Vikings football and host other events throughout the year. It also includes shops, restaurants, offices, a medical center, a hotel and 260 acres of preserved wetlands and trails.

Below is our first member update, with the latest news and information about what you can do to get involved.

Sincerely,

bg.bmp

Bud Grant

Co-chair

The message then went on to give specifics. It spoke told me that Minnesota Momentum will be airing statewide television and radio messages. The ads introduce the plan for the Northern Lights center and invite viewers and listeners to join us as members of Minnesota Momentum. The objective of this communications campaign is to get the facts out and make sure Minnesotans understand the benefits to the state of this economic development project. The messages began airing Tuesday (February 28), but if you have not seen the TV ad or live out of state, you can view it on the VU here or on the VU Videocast page.

How You Can Help in this Movement

You can help build our coalition by emailing your friends and inviting them to join as members. Just click here and you’ll be taken to the “Tell a Friend? function on the website, which allows you to quickly email several friends at once. Spreading the word about our coalition will help to keep our grassroots effort growing by the day! Haven't joined yet? What are you waiting for?

Key Dates: Legislative Session Begins March 1

The Minnesota State Legislature will begin this year’s legislative session on March 1. We expect the Northern Lights stadium development plan to be an important issue during the session, so stand by for opportunities in the near future to take action and make your voice heard!

Coming Friday

Well, if I can find the time that is. But Friday is important because the real bidding begins as NFL free agency opens. The Purple are projected to have a league high $24.1 million (said with a Dr. Evil sneer) in the kitty. What will happen?

Posted by maasx003 at 1:34 AM
January 30, 2006
Sticker Shock

Note: Those of you who are regular readers of the VU may have had some access issues over the last week or so. The University of Minnesota UThink server has been experiencing some memory problems which seem to come and go. It is being dealt with and I hope to be back to normal soon.

Yep, that time of year again when the ol' season ticket renewal notice arrives. It usually arrives about the same time that I'm also dealing with Uncle Sam looking for a handout. This year, the letter was signed by the Wilf brothers and not chintzy Red McCombs who continually rose ticket prices but after 1998 really didn't show me an improved product on the field.

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Now, let me make it crystal clear that despite the history of price hikes that I'm about to give you a history lesson on, I still consider the Vikings ticket to be one of the most economical in town for entertainment bang for the buck. It's just that I'd like the price hikes to slow down a wee bit.

Time for your history lesson.

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Back in the 1993-94 NFL season, I paid $25 a ticket for four season tickets in section 201. My total package price for these four season tickets in the upper bowels of the Metrodome was $1000.

For the 1994-95 NFL season, I was moved up to section 101 in the end-zone. That's where I am today except that then I was in row seven and today I'm in row one. In any event, I had to dish out an extra $4 per seat for those four season tickets. A decision that took me about 15-seconds to decide upon. Total package price sky-rocketed to $1160 for four prime season tickets.

Reflecting back on those prices I realize those days are long gone and never to be seen again. The prices really started to sky-rocket when ol' Red decided to raise prices again and again and again.

Before we discuss the latest rate hike under the Wilf's, let's look at some more history for further perspective on this matter.

When prices started to rise and we had to make some tough financial decisions, I decreased the number of season tickets I was holding from four to two. This was not a decision made lightly and I often regret doing it. But the extra money afforded did allow my wife and I to attend other entertainment venues offered by the Twin Cities such as the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Gotta spread the wealth, ya know. But let's return to the history and the math.

For the 1996-97 NFL season, I paid $33 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $660.

For the 1997-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740.

For the 1998-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740. That's right. Prices actually held. But that was just before Red McCombs purchased the team. And that's where things really got interesting.

For the 1999-00 NFL season, I paid $45 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $900. An $8 per seat (17.7%) increase over the year before and largest yearly increase during my 12-year tenure as a Vikings season ticket holder. My salary increase that year was 3.8%.

For the 2000-01 NFL season, I paid $48.50 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $970. That one wasn't too bad to swallow but one would have thought that after a hefty $8 per seat increase that perhaps no increase was warranted? But wait, it got even better for Red the Menace.

For the 2001-02 NFL season, I paid $53 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4.50 (8.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%. And keep in mind that just 10-years earlier I was getting four, not two, season tickets for that price. And Red wasn't about to stop there.

For the 2002-03 NFL season, I paid $58 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1160. A $5 (8.6%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.5%.

For the 2003-04 NFL season, I paid $62 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4 (6.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%.

For the 2004-05 NFL season, I paid $64 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1280. A $2 (3.1%) per seat increase. My salary increase last year was 4.0%. Wow! I actually kept pace with ticket inflation!

Now for the latest and, ahem, greatest. Drum roll, please Maestro.

For the 2005-06 NFL season, I will pay $71 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1420. A $7 (9.9%) per seat increase. My salary increase this year will be a meager 4.2%.

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick.

So, the amount of inflation since first purchasing season tickets in 1993 for $25 a seat per game has risen almost 65%. Using this inflation calculator, what did cost me $25 per seat in 1993 should only have risen to $32.87 per seat in 2005. Recall that I will be at $71 per seat for 2006.

Had my salary grown to 61% during this same period, my wife wouldn't have to work. Heady numbers indeed!

Now, I know the team needs to make money. I know that the ticket prices are not out of line with the rest of the league. But here's the thing. When is enough actually enough? Where will it stop?

Will there ever reach a point in this Pro Football Hall of Fame fans life that I might have to walk away from it? Drop my season tickets because I have to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family? There is one such scenario wherein that could happen. And it has to do with a new stadium. I'll return to that topic later this year as all three stadium issues (Twins, Gophers, and Vikes) come to the esteemed Minnesota legislature once again.

If the Vikings ever do get a new stadium agenda on the table and actually get it approved I envision that Wilf and Co. will implement a PSL (private or personal seat licenses).

A relatively new revenue source for team owners is the PSL. PSLs force fans to pay a fixed fee to obtain the privilege of purchasing season tickets. A ticket to buy a ticket!

In the past, teams typically allowed season ticket holders to automatically renew their tickets each year, and that fan's position was lost only if season tickets were not renewed. Now, in an increasing number of stadiums, season ticket holders must pay the PSL fees, which are typically quite expensive, before being given the privilege to pay for the tickets. PSLs don't even confer extra benefits to their customers beyond that of the endangered general season ticket holder.

This is nothing but another scam that takes advantage of sports fans. One more wedge that drives the diehard fans away from the game in favor of a more affluent audience. Just to fatten the wallets of the owners.

I recall a conversation with Jersey John after the 1998 season. Jersey John was the Pittsburgh Steelers fan inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with me that year. This resident of the New Jersey shore has spent the past 27 years traveling to Steelers home games -- 750 miles roundtrip, Point Pleasant house to Heinz Field parking lot.

Jersey John told me about their new stadium efforts during that conversation. As part of the stadium agreement, approximately $37 million (but not less than $34 million) in net proceeds from the sale of personal seat licenses was to be raised in order to assist in funding the new stadium. John was being asked to fork over nearly $12000 for a PSL to retain the right to keep his four season tickets. That was $3000 a seat. Just to retain the right........

Jersey John wasn't a down-and-out type. He was a very successful business man. But twelve grand? It gave one pause. And it should have.

So if PSLs become part of the new stadium agenda, there could possibly be two more open seats in the front row available for you. If you have the upfront cash for a PSL...and can handle the 5-17% ticket rate hikes...and the $25 parking...and $60 jersey's.....and $5 hot dog.....Whew! That home theater system with the 84" drop down screen might be all I need.

Nah! It's more fun to be at the game. But, I think you can see my point. How about you? How high would you be willing to go for a regular season game?




Shameless Plug

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of a new CD by Edinburgh-born chanteuse/guitarist KT Tunstall. Her debut album Eye To The Telescope will released on February 7, 2006. The first simgle, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, has been getting a lot of air play in the Twin Cities. Give her a listen!

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Another Shameless Plug

This past Saturday the COD family met our friends Hadi Anbar, his wife Soodi and their daughter Jaanon for lunch at Kabobi, the latest in Hadi’s stable of great restaurants. His other restaurants include Mission (the former Aquavit) and Atlas, both in downtown Minneapolis.

Kabobi serves food from their native Persia in a fast food setting but with real silverware and cloth napkins, an elegant touch. The food – kebabs and pita sandwiches – is very flavorful and a great value. It’s even kid-friendly, our biggest litmus test.

If you are ever in the Eden Prairie area, check it out.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:21 AM
January 26, 2006
Which Stadium Visualization Do You Fancy?

It is the off-season and so the Viking Underground covers a lot of ground. You've recently read a little about my trip to Russia circa 1995 which I enjoyed doing. It is time now to swing the focus back a bit towards things purple. Today, we look at not how a new stadium would be accomplished or where it would be built, but what the damn thing will look like.

I was recently reminded of the Red McComb's version and that of new owner Zygi Wilf when I read the following over at the Greet Machine:

And speaking of the new Vikings stadium, I've been thinking about what Zygi can do to help his efforts when it suddenly dawned on me that I don't like the new design of the stadium. I don't like it at all. Especially not compared to the old design. Especially not compared to the old design:

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New design (click for larger)
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Old design (click for larger)

Do you see what I mean? The new design looks like crap! And what is with the two garish yellow towers jutting out of the front? I don't get it. Whoever drew this thing up could have done a better job. I mean, look at the old design. Sleek lines. And those cool stainless steel rounded beams coming out of the top evoking thoughts of the Viking longboats of old ... man, that was a cool design. I gotta give Red credit for that one. This new stadium needs some more pizazz if it is going to get the attention and excitement of the people of Anoka County. That is what I think anyway.

I think the Greet Machine has a point, don't you? Why not fit the stadium's architecture to that of the Vikings history? Make it look like a longboat. Make it look so bloody breathtaking that people will be duty-bound to pony up some big time dough to make it happen....or allow the thing to be built without a cluster of referendums that will most undoubtedly thwart even a shovelful of dirt to be dug.

So, which design do you prefer?




The Trophy is Home

Yes, the Beer Brotherhood Fantasy Football trophy is back where it belongs, in the hands of the champion. In this case, the two-time B2F2 league champion.

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It is an exquisite item. Every fantasy league should have a perpetual trophy to hand from champion to champion. In this case, the B2F2 League trophy has room for about 50-years and can be expanded with another base to keep it going from generation to generation. Even The Boy® dreams about owning this baby some day. He holds a trophy he won at a birthday party last year to show just how big the B2F2 League trophy is.

Here is to next year and another fantasy championship!


Posted by maasx003 at 1:55 AM
September 20, 2005
Zygi Has the Ball Rolling

That was ball rolling, not head's rolling. Although, I expect that to come soon as well given all the finger pointing going on at Winter Park Monday.

Zygi Wilf has announced that the Vikings and the city of Blaine have an agreement to build $675 million retractable-roof stadium under the team has reached with Anoka County.

Red McCombs must be wondering where all the love was for him?

The deal is far from done as the esteemed Minnesota political leaders reacted as if someone had rained on their parade of continued inaction.

At the moment, I do not have time to wax poetic on this topic. For a complete discussion, please head to the Greet Machine. I have posted my own feedback there already and invite others to join in the rhetoric that can be found there. The Greet Machine is a blog dedicated to following all three stadium issues (Twins, Vikings, Gophers) and should be your first stop for information on the proposed new Vikings stadium.

And if you haven't already listened in, Shane (Greet Machine owner) and I discussed stadiums on VU Podcast Fourteen earlier this week. Give a listen.

Now, the cynic in me can't leave without commenting on the artist rendition you see here:

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1) Yep, they captured the Minnesota fan. Looking over a swap of 'skitters!
2) Yep, they also made sure the guy has a gut from eating too many brats and drinking too many brewski's.
3) When the stadium is completed, will Culpepper still be QB?

Posted by maasx003 at 12:02 PM
September 12, 2005
Monday: Look Back and Look Ahead

I went into the game against Tampa fully expecting Daunte Culpepper to post a FM-station-like 107.5 plus quarterback rating. I did not expect him to have one of the worst games of his career.

And while I expected the running game to be a bit brutal (26 yards rushing!), I did not expect the Vikings offense to go without a touchdown in a season opening home opener. When's the last time that happened? In fact, the Vikes had won two straight season openers leading up to this game.

Let's face it, the offensive line stunk up the joint allowing lowly Chris Hovan to have a career day. Nate Burleson did not run his routes resulting in two Culpepper interceptions.

But hey, our new punter looked pretty darn good considering his leg must be on ice. Chris Kluwe had an amazing 54.2 yard average with a long punt of 62 yards. That's Ray Guy numbers. And if the season keeps progressing like this first game did, Kluwe might just be our lone Pro Bowl participant!

But it is just the first game. And the defense looked very, very good compared to what we have had to endure in Minneapolis the last few years (or is that decade?). Yeah, they gave up a garbage long run in the last minutes but they were also pretty pooped by that point.

Keith Newman had a spectacular first quarter. The defensive backs were solid. The linebacker depth (yes, we have LB depth!) was good all the way around. Only Brian Williams playing nickel back disappointed and I dare say Williams gave up 10 points on his play alone.

Listening to the Armchair QB's on the call in radio shows on the drive home, I heard a lot of angry Vikings fans. Some blasted Daunte, some blasted Tice, some blasted DB Brian Williams, and almost all blasted the offensive line. There is a new poll off to the left where you can cast a vote for the area (or person) you think was most responsible for this loss.

You can also vote for your Week Two Bengals prediction.

It should be interesting seeing where head coach Mike Tice comes in this week in regards to the Approval Rating (also off to the left). Last week Tice clocked in with a 76% approval rating. How much it goes down this week depends on how much blame is too be placed on a coach in the last year of his contract. A year in which most media pundits feel Tice has to win a playoff game or two to retain his job.

After today's performance, the hangman is starting to ready the noose for Tice. What do you think about Tice right now? Cast you vote.

So, what to think about the game? I know teams aren't afraid to go 1:1 with our WRs any longer now that Randy Moss is gone. That free's up more opposing defensive players to be in the box and shut down an already anemic rushing attack.

Quick side note: Did y'all see what the hottest selling jersey is in one Minneapolis sports store? Hint, it is silver and black.

What about next week? The Vikes, who have been horrible on the road, travel to Cincy to butt heads with the Bengals. Rudi Johnson rushed for 126-yards his opening game. That's 100-yards more than the entire Vikes rushed for. Carson Palmer threw for 280-yards and two TDs the first game out. Better than Daunte's TD goose egg.

I think you'll see an improved Vikings offense next weekend. You will certainly see a better Daunte Culpepper. And if the Vikings defense plays as well as it did today we'll be staring at an 1-1 record in a weak NFC North with the homeless New Orleans Saints coming to town in Week Three.

Either that or a 0-2 start, fans clamoring for Brad Johnson and a new head coach. I'll take the win.

Note: Want to vent? Use the Comment feature at the end of this entry and just let it all come out. You'll feel better for it.

Podcast

VU Podcast Twelve is now up and available. A season opener podcast with sounds from the pregame introductions and ceremonies; some thoughts from during the game; and a post-game interview with Syd Davy (100% Cheese Free Guy). The sound gets a bit distorted at times because of the volume inside the Dome.

Panoramic Photo

Here is a pregame panoramic photo from my perch in the end zone.

Stadium News

Rookie owner Zygi Wilf continues to impress. Buried beneath the opening weekend stories last week was this news. Wilf will match whatever money Anoka County raises with a sales tax, which is expected to be about $240 million. Wilf is believe to then ask the esteemed, ahem, Minnesota Legislature for $120 to $150 million to build the infrastructure for land development.

That, my friends, is about as good as it gets unless Wilf were to fund the entire stadium himself. It could very well be that the work Wilf is doing leap-frogs the Vikings ahead of the Twins and Gophers for the race to build the first new stadium required by all three teams.

Unlike McCombs' bombastic style, Wilf is quietly getting the job done. And Wilf truly is instilling a family atmosphere amongst employees, players, coaches, and even fans. Here is a letter all season ticket holders received over the weekend from Zygi and Mark Wilf:

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Posted by maasx003 at 1:40 PM
June 8, 2005
Save for a Rainy Day

I can't let Stick and Ball Guy and The Greet Machine have all the fun! They've been talking Twins stadium all week over at their blogs. Good stuff too.

So, since it is raining in the Twin Cities today, perhaps we should talk about how we will be funding a Vikings stadium since we were all taught to save for a rainy day as we grew up.

Earlier this year, Governor Pawlenty created a stadium screening committee to accept proposals and make recommendations on building new stadiums for both the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. Anoka County and Blaine entered into a Joint Powers Agreement to develop and submit a proposal that would provide a new stadium for the Vikings in Blaine. The Governors stadium screening committee recommended the Anoka County/Blaine proposal as one of the proposals deserving of further consideration.

A number of things must still happen for a Vikings stadium to be built in Blaine. First, Blaine must be selected as the site for a new stadium and must negotiate the financial agreements with the Vikings, the State, and local government within 60 days. The State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings must each agree to cover a third of the cost for the stadium. An economic and fiscal analysis also needs to be completed. This is currently being done by the Hammes Company, the pre-eminent stadium project developer in the country with recently completed, financially successful projects including Lambeau Field in Green Bay and Ford Field in Detroit. This analysis must show that the entire project will be beneficial to the community. The final outcome of this process will not be known until a potential Stadium Authority selects a site and negotiates the financial terms for funding a stadium.

In the Anoka County/Blaine proposal, Blaine would be responsible for assembling and preparing the site for development. It is anticipated that the funding for this aspect of the project would come from special assessments against the land for infrastructure (i.e., streets and utilities) improvements; resale of developed sites to private companies that will construct mixed-use facilities such as retail, commercial, healthcare, and corporate headquarters on the sites; and the sale of property development rights.

A preliminary economic impact analysis developed by the Hammes Company indicates that:

1) The project would create a greater property tax base, and create more high-paying jobs due to the co-location of all of the mixed-use facilities on one site than would be created if the property is developed without a stadium as an anchor.

2) The project would create 3,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs once it is completed.

3) The economic benefit will accrue over the projects 15-year build out.

4) The project, if approved, will not be funded by the use of property taxes by any of the participating entities.

But the Vikings proposed stadium issue has detractors. Our champion for "No Stadiums and No Taxes" spoke out on the Vikes recently.

"What stadium proponents are doing is setting up this debate about where they should be built, which distracts people from thinking about how they can be built; specifically, where the money will come from," claims Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville). "If you have people talking about 'Oh, St. Paul really snookered Hennepin County on a baseball stadium,' or setting up some competition about where to put the Vikings, you avoid the issue of how to pay for it."

Marty also believes Pawlenty's willingness to discuss options will lead to the inevitable. "Once we're at the Capitol they'll be saying that this steering committee strongly recommends this, so we should do it," Marty continues. "But you notice that they've stopped polling about stadium issues because they found that when it comes to funding these things, most people don't want to spend the money."

Over a year ago, a $1.2 billion stadium bill for the Twins and Vikings narrowly was approved by the state House Tax Committee. However, the committee passed the complex measure with a major amendment that eventually killed stadium construction: No local taxes for stadiums could be imposed without a referendum of voters in the host communities.

The teams did not and do not want the referendums. Which was made clear again this year.

The Vikings also have an additional problem with the 2004 bill. The state's share, coming in the form of a tax increment financing arrangement in a stadium district, did not provide enough money for a Vikings stadium. The state's share was limited to $185 million for a Vikings stadium estimated to cost $645 million.

Several attempts to replace the tax-increment plan with other state revenue streams, such as a liquor tax in the metropolitan area, was also defeated. The liquor tax would have raised more money for a Vikings stadium.

No subsidized stadiums for the mega-rich. No new taxes. What now?

Enter Zygi Wilf.

State Senator Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, said the sale of the Vikes from Red McCombs to Wilf would make little difference unless Wilf is "willing to commit more for a stadium than McCombs was."

With the Legislature now in special session and focused on budget issues for education, health care and transportation, Betzold added, the next opportunity to advance a new Vikings stadium won't come until next year.

People constantly point to the fact the Vikings lease in the Metrodome doesn't expire until 2011. But most experts also agree that a new stadium will take as much as five years to build. Do the math.

A resolution on the future home of the Vikings will need to be front and foremost next year at the State Capitol. And whether Wilf will decide to throw more coin into the pot or not is anyone's guess.

(For more information on The Preserve at Rice Creek, visit the Anoka County web site.)

Posted by maasx003 at 8:13 AM
March 23, 2005
Vikings Survivor: Week Eight

Vote a Player off the Ship

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In light of the boring off-season period, for the next 10-weeks we are going to try something fun. Each of the next 10-weeks we will vote to kick one Vikings player off the ship. Someone you think is the weakest link...or maybe just dislike.

Each following week, I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! So we'll start with ten and end up that you will have to make a choice between two players! We'll select the one player you cannot live without. That one player that gives you the most confidence each time you see him in purple. Who will it be!?!?

The result of Week One was that Chris Hovan was voted off the ship with a mandate. 70% of you told poor, misunderstood Chris to shove it.

In Week Two you showed that Vikings fans can hold grudges. For years. With almost 60% of the vote, you gave the finger to Morten Andersen. Who can forget the 1998 NFC Championship game?

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Well, we couldn't and it is bye-bye Morten.

Week Three saw the closest voting to date with loquacious Kelly Campbell getting the boot by just a few votes over E. J. Henderson.

Week Four did finally put an end to swabbing the poop deck chores for E. J. Henderson. In spite of Randy Moss being traded to the Raiders, Henderson easily was voted off with nearly 60% of the vote.

In Week Five, you elected to boot Michael Bennett. Maybe an early indication that you expect him to be traded before the April draft. You did this despite the fact that Randy Moss is now longer a Viking yet remains on the ship for another week.

Something surprising happened in Week Six. The angry Moss Got Traded fans came out in force and vented their collective displeasure towards Daunte Culpepper. The vote was nip and tuck throughout the week but eventually Randy Moss was tossed from the Vikings longboat onto the pirate ship of Oakland by a mere 3 votes over Culpepper.

Week Seven came and away went Onterrio Smith in a puff of smoke.

Who will be booted in Week Eight? We're now down to just three players. Voting will be open until Wednesday morning (3/30). Make your vote count!




Oh Yeah, That L.A. Thing

For those who continue to blow off the whole Vikes to L.A. thread that I started here earlier this week, now comes this story out of the heart of California itself.

The Terminator wants a team back.

The NFL received a powerful endorsement last Friday in favor of putting a team back in Los Angeles.

My guy for president in 2008 or 2012 (yeah, I know but we'll get the damn amendment put in by then), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a thumbs up to the idea after meeting in Sacramento for an hour with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who stopped in on his way to Hawaii for the annual league meetings.

Where was this story in the local rags?

"A Los Angeles NFL team means good jobs, increased tourism and economic growth for California," the governor said in a written statement. "As you know, I love action and I want to bring NFL action back to Los Angeles."

Tags left happy, saying, "Ill be back."

Oh, and just who is handling all of Fowler's legal work in the purchasing of the Vikings? That name belongs to Kevin Warren.

Name not familiar to you? Well, Warren was vice president and legal counsel for the Los Angeles Rams at one time in his career.

And people want to think that just because Fowler said he's not moving the team that his word is golden. His word. Let's once again review Fowler's word for those keeping score at home. Especially those born after Norm Green left for Dallas.

Prospective Minnesota Vikings owner Reggie Fowler has a wee bit of a credibility problem.

We all know about the whole resume' issue. According to Fowler's explanation, his PR firm made up a bunch of slight improvements on a press release, and then sent it out before he'd had a chance to correct the, er, errors.

And those errors included some real whoppers. Contrary to a three-page biography that Minneapolis-based Tunheim Partners released at the initial introductory news conference when Fowler announced he was buying the Vikings, the Tucson native did not:

Play for the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL or Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Instead, Fowler acknowledged that he was in their preseason training camps.

Enroll in Arizona State University's MBA program. The university said that Fowler did attend graduate school between fall 1984 and summer 1988, but he never declared a major and did not receive a degree.

Earn a spot in the Little League World Series. Fowler in a follow-up said that he played on a Tucson Little League All-Star team.

I can buy the explanation that the PR firm got a little overzealous. (PR people can be like that.) I'm a little skeptical of this explanation:

Fowler, in a brief phone interview, said he did not review the initial biography before it was issued to reporters. He referred all other questions to Leslie Kupchella, an account supervisor for Tunheim Partners.

Neither Kupchella nor Tunheim Partners returned phone calls to the media after the initial dog and pony show.

The company told the Star-Tribune that Fowler's Chandler-based Spiral Inc. supplied the biographical information to the firm. Fowler confirmed that to the newspaper.

Later on, the firm issued a new "fact sheet" about Fowler.

That biography states that Fowler is 46, has two children, four siblings and was raised in Tucson.

It made no mention of his marital status. Fowler told The Republic this week that he was single, but he declined to answer whether he was divorced.

A 1998 St. Petersburg Times story on a small-plane accident involving Fowler and his family said he was married to Lori Fowler. Numerous Maricopa County public records have listed them as a couple.

Fowler's marital status could become an issue for NFL owners if they believe that it could have an impact on his financial status.

So he supplied the false information, and wouldn't come clean about his marital status until pushed by the media?

Yeah, that's just a little suspicious.

On the bright side, "Reggie Fowler" does appear to be his real name. Whether he's actually wealthy enough to purchase an NFL team remains to be seen.

Fowler's deal seems to be contingent on the sale of 25 percent of his aviation simulation company (SATCO) to UBG Financial Corporation. As of March 24 that sale was incomplete. Red McCombs said he was not initially aware that Fowler intended to include the SATCO deal as part of his financing.

As for SATCO, Fowler told the Arizona Republic newspaper last month that it is one of the top three simulator manufacturers in the world.

Asked about that ranking, Bob Glenn, manager of training devices at United Airlines, said, "You want a one word reaction? 'Hah!' "

Glenn called SATCO "a small company that not many people have heard of. I would rank them as an upstart."

Stefan Sobol, the principal engineer of Pan Am International Flight Academy in Sterling, Va., said he did not believe that all of SATCO was worth $300 million.

"There's just no way," said Sobol, who added his firm is worth a bit more than $100 million but is much bigger than SATCO.

This transaction involving SATCO was suppose to have happened March 11.

It did not.

It was then suppose to occur the week of March 15. It did not.

Delays in finalizing the deal have left the league unable to complete its review of the Fowler group's proposal. As of Friday, March 18 the reported $300 million deal to sell 25 percent of SATCO, still had not been finalized. An investigation by the Star Tribune has called into question the value of SATCO and the wherewithal of its reported buyer, UBG Financial Services.

We've now come full circle. As of today, Fowler's deal to sell 25 percent of SATCO to UBG Financial Corporation is still incomplete. A full thirteen days after we were told the deal was going through.

Reggie ain't got the money people. As I stated earlier this week, don't be surprised if the NFL actually buys the team for Fowler.

Whether or not he, or the NFL, actually keeps the team in Minneapolis, well, that's why I'm here.

Posted by maasx003 at 9:01 AM
March 21, 2005
Fowler Snooping Around L.A.?

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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 puppys 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.

Lets 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 Fowlers 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 Este 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 11:02 AM
February 25, 2005
Play Ball

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Time to cleanse the palate. And besides, I had this entry in the can prior to the Moss trade so I'm going to run with it.

With their season right around the corner I just have to chime in on my thoughts for the soon-to-be-World-Series Champion Minnesota Twins.

Wait a doggone minute! This is a Vikings site! How dare you right about America's second favorite pastime. Hey, it's my blog. And I feel like hot dogs and Cracker Jack at the moment.

And besides, there are plenty of baseball artifacts interspersed with my Vikings artifacts in my office. Right next to the 1991 World Championship photos in my office is a signed photo of Kirby Puckett holding grocery goods and a Supervalu cap for a spot he had done with the local grocery distributor a few years back. It was given to me by the former Vice President of Frozen Foods with Supervalu. It is a cherished piece of memorabilia in my sports collection.

My wife and I fondly recall the 1991 season. That team had her favorite Twins player of all time. She nicknamed him Dirt Ball. Can you guess who that was? Leave some comments on who you think that might be. If no one gets it, I'll start leaving some clues.

We've only attended a few games at the Metrodome since that time. The issue? We just cannot bring ourselves to go inside on a beautiful summer night to watch baseball being played. Build a new outdoor stadium, and the Maas family would probably buy a ticket package to attend a dozen or more games each season.

So, with that in mind, which stadium should the Blow Hards at the Minnesota State Legislature be concentrating on funding first?




But Is It Sponge Worthy?

I'm going to give this a try. Based on Elaine Benes of the great Seinfeld sitcom, each week or so I will introduce another blog that I have come across and have begun reading on a regular basis. You, my valued reader, will decide if it deserves a permanent link on my site under the category of Sponge Worthy Links.

You recall the Seinfeld episode. Elaine only uses the sponge as her form of birth control. When the sponge is to be discontinued she scavenges the city buying in hordes any sponges she can find. From then on, if a man was not sponge worthy, then he was not worth Elaine's troubles.

The blogs chosen at random, may have nothing to do with football..or even sports. If you have a favorite blog, please pass it along to me by leaving the web address under the Comments section found at the end of each entry.

So, is this site, Stick and Ball Guy, worth our attention? Is this blog truly Sponge Worthy and deserving of a permanent link on the Worlds Number One Vikings blog?

Voting will be open for one week, ending next Friday (3/4) morning.




Oh, Right. This is a Football Blog

I'm sick of talking about with Reggie Fowler has the bling or not. My emotions have just about bottomed out on the Moss trade. So let's talk running backs.

Earlier this week, the running backs that were to be the most coveted by other teams during free agency received the nasty tags instead. Seattle's Shaun Alexander and Indy's Edgerrin James, both were slapped with the franchise tag, meaning that they'll change teams only if picks change hands. It previously was announced that the Bengals would tag running back Rudi Johnson.

That means Bills running back Travis Henry, Broncos running back Reuben Droughns, Chicago's Anthony Thomas, the Chiefs Larry Johnson and maybe the Steelers Jerome Bettis would be front runners and possibly provide their teams with some high draft picks.

What a doggone minute! The Vikes have Michael Bennett, Onterrio Smith, and Mewelde Moore. Maybe the Vikes chances of turning one of their running backs into some picks and/or help on defense just increased.

The Vikings have enjoyed depth at running back, especially considering that veteran Moe Williams also played extensively last season. I think one of the aforementioned can be cut loose.

Wide-Receiver, Anyone?

Last week at this time I had no idea the Vikings would be in play for a WR, and by the looks of things, they had better act quickly if they plan to pick up a veteran with half the grapefruits that Moss had.

The Jags have confirmed that they've talked to agent Peter Schaffer regarding the possibility of signing former Titans WR Derrick Mason.

The Redskins ability to trade WR Laveranues Coles apparently hinges on whether they can restructure the contract of LT Chris Samuels. The 'Skins, based on Joe Gibbs' ill-advised statements from last week, have been secretly in contact with the agents for receiver Muhsin Muhammad and/or Plaxico Burress.

Maybe The Brains at Winter Park are snowed in and can't reach their phones?

Giddy in Oakland

Yesterday I spoke of how Howie, one of the super fans of the Raider Nation was giddy over getting Moss. He was standing in his front lawn with both hands in the air dancing around. Now the media is reporting that the front office at headquarters in Oakland is feeling much the same.

Word is that the Raiders believe that Moss and Jerry Porter will create an "unstoppable" 1-2 punch at wideout, given the arm strength of quarterback Kerry Collins.

They believe there will not be a better tandem of receivers in the league. And with the development of Ronald Curry, the Raiders might conjure memories of the Vikes' "Three Deep" lineup of Moss, Cris Carter, and Jake Reed, which propelled the team to a 15-1 record in 1998 in Moss' first season in Minnesota.

The Raiders believe they "stole" Moss. As one Raiders official said, "The Vikes, I think, have lost their minds."

So have I.

Posted by maasx003 at 7:20 AM
February 14, 2005
Why Would Fowler Pay $625 Large?

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If Reggie Fowler ends up owning the Minnesota Vikings, he will need to look no further than recent Super Bowl history to find a blueprint from which he can draw up a path from which he can hope to hold the Lombardi trophy high over his head.

Look at the participants from the recently played Super Bowl XXXIX in which the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles. Both these teams matched up very closely when it came to measuring their finances. Both teams played in brand-new stadiums, and each team contributed more than $300 million to the stadium cost.

The Pats are one of only three NFL teams that play in privately financed stadiums. The Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins are the others. Patriots owner Robert Kraft financed the entire construction of what is now Gillette Stadium by borrowing $312 million. The Eagles contributed $330 million to the building of their home, Lincoln Financial Field.

So, to follow suit, one should expect Fowler and his minority interest to put up $300 million plus towards a new Vikings stadium. Even that is a small portion of the reported $1.5 billion needed to build a hotel, corporate headquarters, housing, a theme park, and shops surrounding the centerpiece stadium that the Fowler group has been quoted as being interested in building in neighboring Anoka county.

The huge price tag is because we are talking sports complex, not just a stadium. According to the Anoka County web site, there would be a 70,000 seat fixed-roof domed stadium; 20,000 surface parking spaces ideal for tailgating; 100,000 sq. ft. team headquarters and training facilities; 300,000 sq. ft. medical center; two 250 room business-class hotels and conference center; 100,000 sq. ft. of Vikings-themed retail and hall-of-fame. Retail Shops at the Preserve - 650,000 sq. ft. of retail and entertainment with public plazas and pedestrian corridors. Also included in the complex would be a Corporate Center 1.3 million sq. ft. of corporate headquarters, offices and commercial space; the Residences at the Preserve 200 units of upscale townhomes; and The Rice Creek Conservancy 250 acres of preserved wetlands and trails.

Why would Fowler put up $625 million for a team and then drop that much coin for a stadium and other things? Both the Eagles and Patriots stadiums generate a ton of revenue for their teams. The Patriots' home boasts 6,000 club seats costing $5,000 per season on average. The stadium's 80 luxury suites sell for $165,000 on average. The Eagles' 172 luxury suites and 8,200 club seats cost $135,000 and $2,300 per season, respectively.

According to Forbes magazine, both teams earned $38 million per year from their premium seating last year. The Patriots made $26 million last year in sponsorship revenue from pricey deals with companies like Bank of America, Ford Motor and McDonald's. The Eagles made $23 million in marketing revenue, which came from the likes of PepsiCo and Sovereign Bancorp.

Think what the Vikings could do with the likes of corporate heavyweights Target Corp., United Health Group, Best Buy, Super Valu, 3M, US Bancorp, General Mills, Northwest Airlines, Cenex Harvest States, St. Paul Cos., Xcel Energy, Medtronic, Land O'Lakes, and Hormel located within the Minnesota border.

While lucrative stadiums put the Pats and Eagles near the top of the league's financial hierarchy, every NFL team (except the Arizona Cardinals last year) is profitable, thanks to a strict player-salary cap and a lucrative TV deal. Owners paid out 64% of revenue to players last season. Each team received a total of $81 million last season from The Walt Disney Co., Viacom and News Corp. as part of an eight-year TV contract worth $17.6 billion. The salary cap and rich TV deal gave NFL owners a cumulative operating profit of $850 million last season, compared with collective losses for both Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.

The Pats and Eagles are among the NFL's most valuable franchises. The value of both teams has jumped more than 50% over the past two years.

Pats Franchise Value: $861 million
Pats Value Rank: Fourth
Pats Total Revenue: $191 million
Ad/Sponsor Revenue: $26 million
Premium Seat Revenue: $38 million
Naming Rights (Gillette): $95 million

Eagles Franchise Value: $833 million
Eagles Value Rank: Fifth
Eagles Total Revenue: $198 million
Ad/Sponsor Revenue: $23 million
Premium Seat Revenue: $38 million
Naming Rights (Lincoln Financial): $140 million

If you are looking to build a winner for a future Super Bowl, consider this: Since Forbes started valuing NFL franchises in 1998, the Super Bowl winner has been the more valuable franchise each year. This includes 2002 and 2003, when the winning team was the underdog going into the game.

When picking a Super Bowl winner, it pays to follow the money.

2004 SB
Winner, New England with a franchise value of $756 million
Loser, Carolina Panthers with a franchise value of $642 million

2003 SB
Winner, Tampa Bay with a franchise value of $606 million
Loser, Oaklnad Raiders with a franchise value of $421 million

2002 SB
Winner, New England with a franchise value of $524 million
Loser, St. Louis Rams with a franchise value of $448 million

2001 SB
Winner, Baltimore Ravens with a franchise value of $479 million
Loser, N.Y. Giants with a franchise value of $387 million

2000 SB
Winner, St. Louis Rams with a franchise value of $390 million
Loser, Tennessee Titans with a franchise value of $369 million

1999 SB
Winner, Denver Broncos with a franchise value of $320 million
Loser, Atlanta Falcons with a franchise value of $233 million

So, up front, it would appear that Fowler is crazy. Crazy like a fox.

Note: I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts about Fowler now that 24-hours has passed since the annoucement. Do you think another outside party is the best fit for the Vikings? How does this change the plan for improving the defense via free agency? Does this improve the chances of getting the stadium issue resolved? Leave a comment using the Comment link at the end of today's entry.

Reminder for Vikings Survivor

Reminder to vote in the Vikings Survivor series of polls that started recently.

Chris Hovan was voted off the ship in Week One. Morten Andersen appears headed for Davey Jones' locker in Week Two. If you haven't voted yet, get your vote in today!

Then come back Wednesday as I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! We'll be down to eight survivors. Who will be the third player to walk the plank?

Fantasy Racing Reminder

For all you NASCAR buffs out in football land, its your last chance to sign-up and enjoy fantasy NASCAR racing with your football buddies.

In order to join the group, just go to the game front page and click on the "Sign Up" button to create a team. After completing registration, or if you already have a team, click the "Create or Join Group" button and follow the path to join my existing private group. Then, when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 24451
Password: purple

Good luck! And let's have some clean racing!

Posted by maasx003 at 2:45 PM
February 5, 2005
Vikes Win (or Lose) Through Expansion?

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Weve all heard the rumors. Red McCombs backs up the moving vans to Winter Park and moves the team to the number two television market in the United States. Thats Los Angeles for you fly-over-country bumpkins.

On Friday down in Jacksonville, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue implied that the league might fill the void by expanding.

Tagliabue explained that, if the league determines by May the arrangements for the building and use of a stadium, "[T]hen we'll move on to the question of what team do we send there. Is it an expansion team? Is it a relocated team?"

But why expand beyond thirty-two teams? Particularly since the addition of four teams since 1995 has given the NFL the structure that former Commissioner Pete Rozelle once envisioned.

So in the name of Bud Grant is going on? I think that the NFL has figured out that in order to give both the New Orleans Saints and the Vikings (and possibly the Colts, whose stadium situation might not be as resolved as believed) the most possible leverage in landing a new stadium in their current locales, the league needs to create the impression that if both the Saints and the Vikings get new venues, the league will simply plug the hole in L.A. with a 33rd franchise.

Here is another way to look at it. Call it my Black Helicopter theory. The NFL is concerned that the folks in Minnesota and the folks in New Orleans are watching each other's situations very closely. If, eventually, it looks like the Saints won't get a new stadium and likely will move, the folks in Minnesota suddenly won't feel the same pressure to get the process finalized or risk losing their team to the same city that almost stole the Timberwolves.

That's the only problem with using the vacant L.A. market to squeeze a variety of new, publicly-funded stadiums. Eventually, it will be down to two -- and when one of that duo realizes the other will be moving, the nuclear scenario disappears. And with it goes the, "If you build it, they will stay" mantra that has resulted in plenty of taxpayer dollars going to projects aimed at squeezing even more money out of our pockets.

So lets say Im not mixing my vitamins and wine incorrectly and am right about this. The most reprehensible aspect of the NFL's plan is that there remains a possibility that both Minneapolis and New Orleans will spend a lot of time and money working out plans for a new stadium, but that one of them will move anyway if, in the end, the NFL decides that it's not quite ready to begin stretching the rubber band beyond 32 teams.

Here's more from comments from The Commish from Friday:

He's personally aware of details regarding the possible sale of the Vikings to Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler.

A regular season game could be played outside the U.S. by 2005.

He doesn't favor expanding the so-called "Rooney Rule" to front-office positions.

He defends the choice of Jacksonville for the Super Bowl because, in his words, "Some of us have become a little too high-fallutin'."

There's "a long way to go" in negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association on an extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NFL might assist in the launch of a new sports network to televise games -- which might be a shot across the bow at the ESPN monopoly, and could lead to an eventual partnership with Fox.

Irvin Misses Out, Will C.C. Also in His 1st Year?

The biggest non-surprise for me from Saturday's announcement of inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame was that former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, one of six finalists, did not get the necessary votes in his first try.

Of the six finalists, Irvin and former Giants linebacker Harry Carson failed to garner the 80-percent "yes" vote necessary to secure induction.

The other four finalists, Dan Marino, Steve Young, Bennie Friedman, and Fritz Pollard, all made it.

The reality is that only two receivers, Raymond Berry and Steve Largent, ever have made it in the first year of eligibility, following the mandatory five-year wait.

Though winning championships has helped guys who might never have made it (such as Lynn Swann and John Stallworth), those three Super Bowls weren't enough to make up for the fact that, when he retired, Irvin wasn't among the all-time leaders statistically, like Berry and Largent.

And that raises an interesting question for Cris Carter who comes up as eligible in three years. Even though he's currently second to Jerry Rice in catches and touchdowns, my guess is he will be left behind in his first year as well. If Irvin cant make it in with his Super Bowl rings, neither will Carter in his first year and who has no Super Bowl appearances, let alone rings.

In fact, the only guy who's currently a lock to make it in his first year of eligibility is Rice. Tim Brown has a chance, and time will tell whether Marvin Harrison or Randy Moss get to that level.

Links and Tidbits

Remember last week when I said I'd like the Vikings to bring in Patrick Surtain for a workout? Don't bother calling! Surtain says the only teams for whom he won't play are the Packers and the Vikings. Wow! A shot to both me and Cheesehead Craig at the same time. Won't see that everyday.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:57 PM
February 1, 2005
Heavy on the Sarcasm

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Happy Groundhogs Day! I see six more years with no Vikings stadium!

Our fine Minnesota legislators are hard at it folks. Yep, the sleeves are rolled up high on the arms and the sweat is dripping from their high foreheads. Our finest minds figuring out a way to keep the Twins and Vikings in Minnesota and solve the stadium solution just like their counterparts did in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, New York, Indiana, Texas, and Washington D.C.

Let us take a quick look at the number of bills currently being presented in either the House or the Senate.

Vikings, oops! Not a single bill. Only football bill I can find is 2005 Senate Resolution 24 which is to congratulate the Minnetonka High School football team for winning the state championship.

Twins, hmmm. That must be a mistake. Nothing? Oh, wait. There is House Bill 130 which is about keeping Twins and Triplets in the Same Classroom.

But wait! There are five bills for getting a University of Minnesota football stadium built! Hooray, hooray!

2005 House Bill 263 (U of M Football Stadium)

2005 Senate Bill 237 (U of M Football Stadium)

2005 House Bill 53 (U of M Football Stadium)

2005 Senate Bill 115 (U of M Football Stadium)

2005 House Bill 33 (U of M Football Stadium)

Only, I thought the U of M football team was pretty much locked into staying in Minnesota. Or was there a recent outcry to build the Gophers a new stadium or "we'll lose 'em to Los Angeles!"

I must have missed that one.

Must be then that if we don't build the Gophers a new stadium that the NCAA will fold the franchise. One less team in the Big Ten to deal with. Yeah, that must be it. I was probably out of town the week that one was discussed.

Yeah, ya betcha my fellow Lutefisk eating, ice-fishing, mosquito slapping, snow loving Minnesotans. Can't you just imagine all the extra time we'll have to enjoy our native Minnesota once the Vikings and Twins are gone! Whhhhoooo-hooo! Honey, where is our travel map to St. Cloud? I hear they have a fine Space Aliens restaurant there!

Sad Day for Cheesehead Craig Ahead?

Looks like ol' #4 for Green Bay is about to cash it in. Unfortunately, many Packer fans think Brett Favre retired against the Vikes in January.

Packers receiver Donald Driver predicted on Tuesday morning that he believes quarterback Brett Favre will retire in lieu of returning for a 15th NFL season. It also looks like current Packer head-goat, er, I mean coach Mike Sherman is forcing Farve's decision.

If Sherman really does force Favre's hand, Sherman could end up incurring the wrath of the Green Bay faithful. And with only one more year on his own contract -- and with his G.M. title recently stripped -- Mike might decide that it's time to move on after 2005.

If, as Driver suggests, Sherman wanted an answer from Favre by March 2, one guess is that the Pack will be making a play for Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who grew up in the Packers' system before being traded to Seattle. Hasselbeck will be a free agent next month, and it's unlikely that the team will use the franchise tag to restrict his movement, especially since the one-year tender for franchised quarterbacks is in the neighborhood of $9 million.

Finally, if Favre does retire, look for new G.M. Ted Thompson to "blow it up" (as they say in the bidness) and rebuild the roster. The time for an overhaul could, in the end, be now.

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TSN All-Pro

Go back to the start of the 2004-05 season. You are told to select the which side the of the ball, offense or defense, from which a single Vikings player will be selected to The Sporting News' All-Pro team. I'm willing to bet that not a single Vikings fan would have selected defense. Well, that is what happened.

Defensive tackle Kevin Williams was the only Vikings player selected to The Sporting News' All-Pro team. The team was determined by the voting of 23 NFL pro personnel directors. Here is the entire team:

OFFENSE

WR: Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis; Terrell Owens, Philadelphia.

TE: Antonio Gates, San Diego.

OT: Walter Jones, Seattle; Orlando Pace, St. Louis.

OG: Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh; Brian Waters, Kansas City.

C: Jeff Hartings, Pittsburgh.

QB: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis.

RB: Edgerrin James, Indianapolis; Curtis Martin, N.Y. Jets.

DEFENSE

DE: Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis; Julius Peppers, Carolina.

DT: Richard Seymour, New England; Kevin Williams, Vikings.

LB: James Farrior, Pittsburgh; Ray Lewis, Baltimore; Takeo Spikes, Buffalo.

CB: Champ Bailey, Denver; Chris McAlister, Baltimore.

S: Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia; Ed Reed, Baltimore.

SPECIALISTS

K: Adam Vinatieri, New England.

P: Shane Lechler, Oakland.

KR: Terrence McGee, Buffalo.

PR: Eddie Drummond, Detroit.

Links and Tidbits

Friday will mark seven years to the day that best-selling novelist Tom Clancy's then-NFL record bid of $206 million was accepted by the Vikings' board of directors for Clancy to become majority owner of the team. Read Charley Walters' recent interview with Clancy.

Imagine yourself on an elevator with Emmitt Smith. How would you handle it?

From The Sidelines

Yeah, I'm going to be all over the map today....so sue me. I said that now and then I would break out of the football mode and bring some other things on my plate direct to your house and force feed it to you. So, blah! If you don't want to read a political piece, just turn back now.

In response to a new Star Tribune Minnesota poll that shows Senator Marshall Fields' (Mark Dayton) approval rating dropping by 15%, the non-partisan "Hotline" national political briefing ran the following headline, "That Dayton Approval Rating Ain't Great, Particularly For A Star-Trib Poll."

NSS (No Sh*t Sherlock)!

By highlighting the liberal bias of the Star Tribune poll, "Hotline" is raising the point that in reality Dayton's approval rating is probably worse than the Star Tribune poll indicates.

As the MNGOP has pointed out in the past, the Star Tribune poll has been historically inaccurate because it tends to include more Democrats than Republicans in its samples.

Dayton's low approval is clearly a reflection and result of the rash and bizarre behavior that has come to define his tenure as a United States Senator. It is also a result of the fact that Dayton has allied himself with the Ted Kennedy wing of his party. Just last week, Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio that he would stand with Kennedy "anytime."

"But, the other twelve-eleven Democrats, and one Independent who voted the same way that I did [against Secretary of State Rice]; very solid, long-standing senators -- Senator Kerry, Senator Kennedy, others -- I'll stand with them anytime." (Minnesota Public Radio's "Midday With Gary Eichten," January 28, 2005)

Hmm, Senator Dayton....would that be the same Senator Kennedy who just one day before called American troops "Part Of The Problem" in Iraq? Let's review.

On January 27, 2005, Senator Ted Kennedy called the United States Military "Part Of The Problem" in Iraq. "'The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution," Kennedy said in a speech to Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies." (Lolita C. Baldor, "Kennedy Calls For Troop Withdrawal, Says Military Is Fueling Insurgents," The Associated Press, January 27, 2005)

Senator Kennedy recently said the Bush Administration "wants" to have a crisis in Iraq, the Federal Judiciary, Social Security and "everywhere" and give the benefits to Wall Street.

"[W]hat this administration wants to do is to have a crisis in Iraq, a crisis in the federal judiciary, a crisis in Social Security, and they want a crisis everywhere so they can give the benefits of the Social Security for a third of all the Social Security funds to Wall Street." (Senator Ted Kennedy, Speech at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., January 12, 2005)

Senator Kennedy also labeled Iraq "George Bush's Vietnam." "This [Iraq] is a disaster because it's a result of blunder after blunder after blunder. And it is George Bush's Vietnam." (CBS News' "Face The Nation," January 16, 2005)

Going to be population two in the ol' Dayton-Kennedy camp my boys. Have fun standing together. Reminder to Dayton to stand clear of Kennedy once he starts in on the sauce.

Also according to Dayton, Condoleezza Rice lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Oh really, Senator? Who else do you suppose "lied" about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction?

In September 2002, your guy Teddy Kennedy gave a speech at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in which he said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that it was imperative that he be disarmed.

Sen. John Kerry spent two years telling the networks about how dangerous Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction were. Hans Blix, Jacques Chirac, Al Gore, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton all have been quoted saying that Saddam needed to be relieved of his weapons of mass destruction.

Even former President Bill Clinton said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and used that to justify his bombing incursions into Iraq.

So if Rice was lying about the weapons of mass destruction, what does that say about the truthfulness of Dayton's Senate colleagues, as well as Chirac and former President Clinton?

I find the silence on the "lies" of Kerry, Kennedy, Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton to be astounding given all of the coverage of Rice's supposed "lies."

It looks like Sen. Dayton made a New Year's resolution to try to be more relevant in 2005. I've seen him in the press quite a bit lately. This begs the question: Where has he been for the past four years?

Too little, too late, Senator. Most Minnesotans already know that the "lights are on but nobody is home" with respect to your performance in the Senate.

Yes, Sen. Dayton, next November we all will recall who fled his Capitol office fearing terrorism, yet found the courage to call Rice a liar over weapons of mass destruction.

Everyone knows the difference between an error and a lie. There is absolutely no excuse for Dayton making this shameful and baseless charge.

I understand Rep. Mark Kennedy has started exploring a run for Dayton's Senate seat. After this latest performance by Dayton, the 2006 election can't happen fast enough.

Posted by maasx003 at 11:34 AM
January 31, 2005
Special Tax Credit for New Stadiums?

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Lots and lots here today. Probably enough for two postings. Call it Two for Tuesday!

More thoughts on the local stadium issues. One argument that is constantly heard is, Come on, when you're a billionaire, why in the world do you need our money?

Take Seattle sports team owner, Paul Allen. A few years ago, Seattle voted to raise $400 million to build a new stadium alongside new Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field. Those were some apprehensive times for Seattle Sports Fans.

As fans, it splits our thinking right down the middle, doesn't it? At the exact time that we are thinking, "Come on, if you've got a billion dollars, why can't you just kick in the rest? we are also thinking, "We have to get that stadium built or we lose the team!

The whine from opponents then continues, What good is it to read Forbes magazine year in and year out, to find out how rich these guys are if they don't even want to finance their own deals?

Look at it this way. Paul Allen paid approximately $500 million in capital gains tax last year. You mean to tell me that he and the government couldn't figure out some way to take his taxes, call it a special tax credit and put it with the money he already committed towards a stadium so he can build a stadium that would generate more local, state, and federal taxes?

Surely there is a way that local and federal government can figure out a way for a special tax credit for building a major public facility like a stadium. If the state government can have a "special election" with a "special tax item" on the ballot that goes into a "special account," to build a stadium, definitely the federal government can have a "special tax credit" that it works out with the state and local government for someone building a stadium. Could it be then that a tax credit give to the billionaire would appease those that oppose increasing taxes?

Nah, then they would just whine that the billionaires are receiving special treatment and that the money lost from the capital gains taxes should be going to schools, blah-blah-blah.

Oh well, I can dream.

Arizona: New Logo & New Stadium

Enough is enough when the lowly Arizona Cardinals get a new logo and are about to move into their new state-of-the-art stadium in Glendale for the 2006 NFL Season. It's a damn nice looking stadium also! They even have a live construction cam!

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I cannot take anymore!!!! AAAAGGGGHHHHH!

Is anyone in the St. Paul capitol building watching this? Or are they just playing the fiddle while the Vikings payroll burns!!?!?!?!!

Whoops!

In case you missed it, there was a significant faux pas on the web site of former Eagles quarterback and ESPN host Ron Jaworski.

Jaws, obviously, is an NFL guru who spends his time following the league very carefully and breaking down film (or, at least, he voices that every time you see him on the air!).

So since Jaws is, supposedly, one of the leading voices regarding pro football, he surely knows how to get basic facts right regarding, you know, matters regarding the NFL.

In a segment on his personal web site regarding teams that could break out in 2005, Jaworski includes the New York Jets, for the following reasons:

"Hiring Scott Linehan as the new offensive coordinator is significant. In Minnesota, Linehan cultivated a big-play, quick-strike offense. He's got the talent to work with in New York to have that same kind of offense. With Chad Pennington at quarterback, Curtis Martin in the backfield and receivers like Santana Moss and Justin McCareins, the Jets have the tools.

"Now they need the philosophy. Linehan will provide that. The Jets should be an attacking offense, one that is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field."

Great analysis, Jaws. With one minor exception. Linehan isn't the new offensive coordinator. It's Mike Heimerdinger.

Whoa! Who's your editor Jaws? Might want to have a little talky-talk with that person. Quick!

(Note: They may actually realize their mistake and correct the site before you access the link provided above. Nonetheless, it was there!)

Who I Want

Imagine this next year. The 6-0 Vikings go into Lambeau Field to take on the 1-5 Packers. Randy Moss again lights up the Girlfriend backfield....

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And lights up the Packers fans with yet another Moss Moon.

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Then newly aquired safety Donovin Darius lays a heavy (clean!) hit on Brett Favre resulting in Darius fumble recovery that he takes to the house.

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Darius remains the one free agent that I hope the Vikings take a good, hard look at. Peter King thinks so too.

And having over 60,000 Packer fans booing their lungs out kind of warms the cockles of my heart, as well. I don't think Madison can afford to post billboards for TWO Minnesota Vikings players!

But then, I always have my trusting spray paint and Madison isn't that far a drive...

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Links and Tidbits

----Rob Brzezinski is among more than a dozen people under consideration for the Seattle Seahawks' open team president job, it was learned Monday.

----Joe Juranitch could have used Ragnar's battle ax when the Vikings lost in Philly. Read how the classless Beagles fans treated the Vikings mascot.

----Look for future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to announce today his retirement from the Arizona Cardinals to join Reggie Fowler's investment group that is trying to buy the Vikings. Fowler's group also includes local automobile dealer Denny Hecker.

----Insiders say there are just four major investors, including Glen Taylor, in the Timberwolves owner's group to buy the Vikings, and one of them initially considered becoming general partner of his own group. But at the NFL's suggestion, that investor has joined Taylor. Taylor is considering adding a block of investors to his group for those who want to be part of the package, but for a much lower percentage. An objective view of the Vikings' value would be about $544 million, which would seem a fair price for whomever ends up buying the team. Red McCombs bought the Vikings in 1998 for $210 million plus $36 million in tax considerations. Teams with stadium leases similar to that of the Vikings have risen in value about 12 percent annually. That would make the Vikings' value $543.8 million.

----Why women should not be owners and/or coaches of men's sporting programs.

----Will the dollar be deposed as the world's reserve currency? Scary stuff. My kid could be working in a 2nd rate country!

----We have sports owners (Red McCombs, Carl Pohlad) who can't get the legislature to discuss the subject. But it could be worse, we could be living in New Orleans.

----The land for a possible new Jets new stadium could cost as much as $300 million. Land and infrastructure will be big topics here (as soon as Hell freezes over and the legislature gets off its big fat pork-laden butt). It'll be good to see how other areas get around these issues.

From the Sidelines

Yes, I love the Blues. And the Blues artists all have cool names. So, what's your Blues name? Follow the instructions below to get your genuine Blues name.
Then experience that legendary blues thrill.

1. From the first list, take the name using the first initial of your first name.

2. From the second list, do the same with your middle name.

3. From the third list, take the name using the initial of your last name.

First List - for your first name:

A=Fat; B=Muddy; C=Crippled; D=Old; E=Texas; F=Hollerin';

G=Ugly; H=Brown; I=Happy; J=Boney; K=Curly; L=Pretty;

M=Jailhouse; N=Peg Leg; O=Red; P=Sleepy; Q=Bald; R=Skinny;

S=Blind; T=Big; U=Yella; V=Toothless; W=Screamin'; X=Fat Boy;

Y=Washboard; Z=Steel-Eye

Second List - your middle name:

A=Bones; B=Money; C=Harp; D=Legs; E=Eyes; F=Lemon; G=Killer;

H=Hips; I=Lips; J=Fingers; K=Boy; L=Liver; M=Gumbo; N=Foot;

O=Mama; P=Back; Q=Duke; R=Dog; S=Bad Boy; T=Baby; U=Chicken; V=Pickles; W=Sugar; X=Cracker; Y=Tooth; Z=Smoke

Third List - your last name:

A=Jackson; B=McGee; C=Hopkins; D=Dupree; E=Green; F=Brown;

G=Jones; H=Rivers; I=Malone; J=Washington; K=Smith; L=Parker;

M=Lee; N=Thompkins; O=King; P=Bradley; Q=Hawkins; R=Jefferson;

S=Davis; T=Franklin; U=White; V=Jenkins; W=Bailey; X=Johnson;

Y=Blue; Z=Dixon

Me? I'm Muddy Boy Lee. Please address me as such in the future. My son turns out to be Ugly Boy Lee. My wife (Boney Boy Lee) might have something to say about that.

What is yours?

Photos of the Day

A huge mountain of cow manure is seen smoldering at a feedlot near Milford, Neb., Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005. The estimated 2,000-ton pile of burning cow manure spontaneously combusted about two months ago and continues to smolder despite attempts to douse it.

Diew, a five year-old Thai elephant, demonstrates how to use and flush a toilet at an elephant camp in Chiang Mai province, in northern Thailand.

Posted by maasx003 at 12:56 PM
January 25, 2005
Pawlenty Playing the Voters?

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Neal St. Anthony, a business columnist with the Star Tribune, wrote an very interesting piece in the January 25 edition of the STrib. "State dropped the ball on stadium plan" went on to describe how Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration effectively killed a baseball bill last year that was acceptable to Senate leaders and was passed by the Republican-run House tax committee. The bill would have set aside money for a $531 million, retractable-roof baseball stadium without tapping income or property taxes. The plan also met the guidelines of Pawlenty's own 2003 stadium commission. But the powerful House tax committee killed the bill's chances when it voted down a different financing plan supported by Pawlenty that would have tapped into incremental taxes paid by pro athletes.

Huh?

Why would Gov. Pawlenty toss up a road-block on something that so clearly would have meet his very own requirements? St. Anthony describes through interviews and quotes how Pawlenty is dodging the issue and placing stadium talk on the back burner until after the 2006 gubernatorial election.

So, it would appear that our esteemed governor is talking out of two sides of his yapper. On one side, Pawlenty touts, Bottom line, I dont want to lose the Vikings and the Twins on my watch.

Then, on the flip side it appears Gov. Pawlenty, who repeatedly voted against stadium bills as a member of the Legislature, is saying what he needs to say to appease those who support the stadium measures. But then Pawlenty does not carry through on his promises so that he can point to the lack of movement to appease those groups who oppose new stadiums. All in time to garner votes from both sides in time for the aforementioned 2006 gubernatorial election.

That's a very dangerous game Gov. Some may call it undiluted political chicanery....dating two women at the same time. And you don't need to be playing it. Tom Ridge got it done in Pennsylvania amidst huge opposition.

In 1994, Ridge ran for governor of Pennsylvania, winning the election as a Republican. He was reelected in 1998, serving until his resignation to become Secretary of Homeland Security in 2001. Oh, and Ridge won reelection in 1998 after he garned a new stadium bill and approval.

That's right, Ridge worked a stadium bill during an election year. Are you listening, Tim? Here's a timeline for how Ridge got it done in case anyone at the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul wants to take notes.

March 1998 -- Plan B is officially born, with the details of the $809 million plan laid out in a press conference, including a $228 million baseball park, a $233 million football stadium and an expansion of the convention center estimated at between $267 million and $290 million.

June 1998 -- Negotiations among the city and the county and the two teams lead to an agreement that calls for the Steelers providing $76.5 million toward the cost of their stadium and the Pirates providing $40 million toward theirs.

July 1998 -- The Regional Asset District board, which administers half the funds raised by the county sales tax, approves its share of the Plan B funding.

August 1998 -- At a press conference at the site of the new baseball park along the Allegheny riverfront, PNC Bank announces it will pay $30 million over 20 years, starting in 2001, to put its name on the Pirates' facility, PNC Park.

October 1998 -- The Steelers make their long-awaited announcement on the site of their new stadium, to go just west of Three Rivers Stadium.

November 1998 -- As he wins re-election, Ridge says his top priority is to secure the state's portion of the funding for stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Ridge conceded that voting for stadium financing was difficult for many lawmakers. But the governor, who handily won re-election in 1998, said his own political fortunes hadn't suffered because of his public support for using state revenues to assist these projects.

"As I tried to remind folks, there has only been one public person visibly, vocally and positively supporting the state's giving one-third [of the projected construction costs] to the stadiums over the past two years. That's me," Ridge said. "I would hope they would take some comfort in the fact because, clearly, that has been known statewide for some time."

He said there had been no voter backlash against a particular party or governor who supported public financing for stadiums.

No voter backlash. New stadiums in Pennsylvania. So, how have the teams done since then?

The Phillies had the 16th-highest payroll two seasons ago, at just under $60 million. That was increased to about $70 million last season.

The Phillies, who moved into their new ballpark in 2004, had been hampered by an unfavorable lease at Veterans Stadium.

The Eagles, who are heading to Super Bowl XXXIX, got there by signing wide receiver Terrell Owens, free agent linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, free agent defensive end Hugh Douglas, free agent linebacker Dhani Jones, and free agent defensive end Jevon Kearse. The Eagles moved into their new stadium in 2003.

Lessee, the Twins are having a hard time signing Cy Young winner Johann Santana. The Vikes are talking about trading away Randy Moss.

Tom Ridge, are you available to run for Governor of Minnesota in 2006?

Links and Tidbits

Fowler has shot at buying Vikings

Stage being set for Fowler

No truth to Moss report, team says

Posted by maasx003 at 7:58 AM
January 8, 2005
Dear Red: How High Can You Go?

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Back in the 1993-94 NFL season, I paid $25 a ticket for four season tickets in section 201. My total package price for these four season tickets in the upper bowels of the Metrodome was $1000.

For the 1994-95 NFL season, I was moved up to section 101 in the end-zone. That's where I am today except that then I was in row seven and today I'm in row one. In any event, I had to dish out an extra $4 per seat for those four season tickets. A decision that took me about 15-seconds to decide upon. Total package price sky-rocketed to $1160 for four prime season tickets.

Reflecting back on those prices I realize those days are long gone and never to be seen again. This stems from reading in the STrib this week that ol' Red has decided to raise prices once again.

Before we discuss the latest rate hike, let's look at some more history for further perspective on this matter.

When prices started to rise and we had to make some tough financial decisions, I decreased the number of season tickets I was holding from four to two. This was not a decision made lightly and I often regret doing it. But the extra money afforded did allow my wife and I to attend other entertainment venues offered by the Twin Cities such as the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Gotta spread the wealth, ya know. But let's return to the history and the math.

For the 1996-97 NFL season, I paid $33 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $660.

For the 1997-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740.

For the 1998-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740. That's right. Prices actually held. But that was just before Red McCombs purchased the team. And that's where things really get interesting.

For the 1999-00 NFL season, I paid $45 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $900. An $8 per seat (17.7%) increase over the year before and largest yearly increase during my 12-year tenure as a Vikings season ticket holder. My salary increase that year was 3.8%.

For the 2000-01 NFL season, I paid $48.50 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $970. That one wasn't too bad to swallow but one would have thought that after a hefty $8 per seat increase that perhaps no increase was warranted? But wait, it gets even better.

For the 2001-02 NFL season, I paid $53 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4.50 (8.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%. And keep in mind that just 10-years earlier I was getting four, not two, season tickets for that price. And Red wasn't about to stop there.

For the 2002-03 NFL season, I paid $58 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1160. A $5 (8.6%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.5%.

For the 2003-04 NFL season, I paid $62 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4 (6.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%.

For the 2004-05 NFL season, I paid $64 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1280. A $2 (3.1%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.0%. Wow!

So, the amount of inflation since first purchasing season tickets has risen almost 61%. Using this inflation calculator, what did cost me $25 per seat in 1993 should only have risen to $31.29 per seat in 2003. Recall that I was at $62 per seat for 2003.

Had my salary grown to 61% during this same period, my wife wouldn't have to work. Heady numbers indeed!

Now, I know the team needs to make money. I know that the ticket prices are not out of line with the rest of the league. But here's the thing. When is enough actually enough? Where will it stop?

Will there ever reach a point in this Pro Football Hall of Fame fans life that I might have to walk away from it? Drop my season tickets because I have to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family? There is one such scenario wherein that could happen. And it has to do with a new stadium. And as an aside, the STrib does a nice job to promote various stadium bills and I'll return to that later next week.

If the Vikings ever do get a new stadium agenda on the table and actually get it approved I envision that whomever is owner of the Vikings at the time will implement a PSL (private or personal seat licenses).

A relatively new revenue source for team owners is the PSL. PSLs force fans to pay a fixed fee to obtain the privilege of purchasing season tickets. A ticket to buy a ticket!

In the past, teams typically allowed season ticket holders to automatically renew their tickets each year, and that fan's position was lost only if season tickets were not renewed. Now, in an increasing number of stadiums, season ticket holders must pay the PSL fees, which are typically quite expensive, before being given the privilege to pay for the tickets. PSLs don't even confer extra benefits to their customers beyond that of the endangered general season ticket holder.

This is nothing but another scam that takes advantage of sports fans. One more wedge that drives the diehard fans away from the game in favor of a more affluent audience. Just to fatten the wallets of the owners.

I recall a conversation with Jersey John after the 1998 season. Jersey John was the Pittsburh Steelers fan inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with me that year. This resident of the New Jersey shore has spent the past 27 years traveling to Steelers home games -- 750 miles roundtrip, Point Pleasant house to Heinz Field parking lot .

Jersey John told me about their new stadium efforts during that conversation. As part of the stadium agreement, approximately $37 million (but not less than $34 million) in net proceeds from the sale of personal seat licenses was to be raised in order to assist in funding the new stadium. John was being asked to fork over nearly $12000 for a PSL to retain the right to keep his four season tickets. That was $3000 a seat. Just to retain the right........

Jersey John wasn't a down-and-out type. He was a very successful business man. But twelve grand? It gave one pause. And it should have.

So if PSLs become part of the new stadium agenda, there could possibly be two more open seats in the front row available for you. If you have the upfront cash for a PSL...and can handle the 5-17% ticket rate hikes...and the $25 parking...and $60 jersey's.....and $5 hot dog.....Whew!




And Your Packer Joke of the Day

A guy arrived at a car dealership to pick up his 2003 Mercedes. Upon starting it for the first time, he reached over and turned on the radio. Nothing happened. Furious, he looked at the salesman and said, "When I buy a $50,000 car, I expect the radio to work."

The salesman explained that the radio was voice-controlled. All he had to do was say what he wanted to hear and the radio would respond with the correct music. "Wow! Pretty neat stuff." he said. He thanked the salesman and drove off. When he hit the interstate, he decided that he wanted to hear some tunes. "Country music." he said, and Willie Nelson started singing. "Rock and Roll", he exclaimed. Led Zeppelin blasted through the speakers. "Easy listening", he continued. It sounded like he was in an elevator.

As he listened to the smooth sounds, a beat up old truck nearly ran him off the road, then pulled away weaving and lurching all over the centerline. "Stupid, redneck drunks!" he screamed. "The Packer Fight Song" began playing.


Posted by maasx003 at 7:10 AM
December 2, 2004
Bye-Bye Vikings?

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"I think we're going to be saying, bye, bye, Vikings, in 2012."

Those words were uttered by Rep. Andy Westerberg, R-Blaine, on Wednesday after he had been appointed cochairman of a House-Senate stadium "working group" to "find solutions to the stadium problem." His district is the only area seeking a new Vikings stadium. But, Westerberg said, in light of the forecast, "it's going to be really hard to find money to put into a stadium."

This came on the heels on news of a $700 million state revenue shortfall announced by the state this week.

Wow.

Now, I'm not so sure I take the same line as Rep. Westerberg that the Vikings franchise is doomed in Minnesota. A lot can happen over the next six years to change the financial horizon for the better. And a lot can happen to even dampen it further.

I still look for the Minnesota Twins to be the team that breaks the ice first, securing a new stadium or folding the franchise altogether. Only then, will the entire focus be on the Vikings. And only then, will the stadium, or franchise. determination be finally made.

Posted by maasx003 at 9:20 AM
December 1, 2004
Time to Dust

Time to put down a bunch of thoughts that have been swirling through the old grey matter this week.

Proposed Minnesota Sports Complex

Are you in support of a Minnesota Vikings sports complex in Anoka County? Anoka County now has a site chock full of information ranging from adding your name to a list of supporters to viewing "fly-by" animation of the proposed sports complex. Pretty cool site, although I'd still prefer a stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Media Fascination with Favre Continues

Lately, Brett Favre has been receiving more accolades than Jesus Christ did when he walked on water. I mean, enough already! I had to turn off the Monday Night game this past week because I could not longer stomach John Madden's love-fest with Favre. As our own Greet Machine pointed out this week, Jim Marshall has played in far more consecutive games that Favre and didn't even merit a mention on the MNF game. And now this NFL Poll from this week:

What is the main reason the Packers are doing so well right now?

1) Depth at running back
2) Defense playing better than expected
3) Game management
4) Inspired play by Brett Favre
5) Too many receiving targets to cover

Oh, make me puke already! I'll give you the SOLE reason. Within the past six weeks the Packers have played Detroit, Washington, Minnesota (WITHOUT Randy Moss), Dallas, St. Louis, and Houston. Next we'll start seeing this on the airwaves....

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"Favre wins again! BRILLANT!"

Let's see what happens to poor Brettsy once he faces the Eagles Sunday! I'll stand by my prediction that the Vikes will win the North division crown by two games.

Fan Opportunities

If you haven't already, be sure and submit your workplace for the Purple Pride Friday Contest. Just e-mail photos of your workplace to the Vikings at website@vikings.nfl.com and each Friday morning throughout the season, the weeks winning workplace will be surprised by Rusty Gatenby from 5 Eyewitness News and Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders! Winners also receive five pregame sideline passes, five field seats for the next home game and a ton of other prizes.

I'm still waiting for the call. Here's some shots of my workplace:

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Pro Football Hall of Fame

Some people have inquired about my induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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In 1999, VISA in conjunction with the Pro Football Hall Of Fame sponsored a new promotion called the "Visa Hall of Fans" award. VISA, along with a select committee, would pick one lucky fan from every NFL team to represent their team in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. A special wing in the hall was set up to honor these fans and was named the "Visa Hall of Fans."

In order to be selected, fans would have to write a short essay explaining why they should represent their respective teams in the hall. In January 1999 the first class was selected and the thirty-one winners were invited to be honored at the Hall of Fame. Being there with the other thirty winners helped me recover from the devasting loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game following the 1998 season.

The Pro Footballs Ultimate Fans Association (P.F.U.F.A.) was born shortly after and holds a reunion each summer during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction festivities.

Posted by maasx003 at 12:16 PM
October 29, 2004
The Stadium Voters Guide

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Have you checked out the Greet Machine's Voter's Guide? I encourage you to do so.

Quoting the site, "The goal of this voter's guide is to list candidates for the Minnesota House of Representatives that are stadium friendly, especially Twins stadium friendly.....This list was created by using any resource I could find including newspaper endoresements, debate transcriptions/reports, newspaper and magazine articles, past voting records, Google searches, the Taxpayer's League of Minnesota web site, and my own knowledge of the subject. As you will see, the list is not finished, and it is far from perfect. This issue, like many other issues, has turned highly partisan as Republicans that once opposed stadium financing are now supporting it (Pawlenty), and DFLers that once supported stadium financing now seem to oppose it (say it ain't so Dean Johnson!)."

If you know how your specific legislator may vote, then let the Greet Machine know so the site can be updated!


Posted by maasx003 at 9:22 AM
October 12, 2004
WHICH YARDSTICK? THE DIFFICULTIES OF MEASURING ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF SPORTS FACILITIES

During the recent Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings stadium discussions, a stadium’s positive and negative impact upon its home community has been the subject of a great deal of controversy.

Experts have lined up on both sides of the issue. Stadium opponents declare that the facilities and the teams that play in them have no immediate or permanent economic impact. Further, they claim that the jobs created by a new stadium are minimum wage positions; therefore, public financing of new sports stadiums is unbeneficial to an entire community and therefore, inappropriate.

One fan’s opinion

In my opinion, the issue can only be properly addressed by considering the stadium, the team that will play there, and overall utilization. A look at the stadiums and arenas individually reflects a marked difference between baseball, football, and basketball attendance and their respective economic impacts. In addition, it goes without saying that the teams must be at least marginally successful both in playing their respective sports and in winning the hearts and minds of the local public.

I am not a great believer that public dollars should finance 100 percent of new stadiums. Nor do I think the team owners should be entirely responsible for financing them, either. The issue of stadium finance is far more complicated than simple dollars and cents. In my mind, it is also about city image and civic pride. We are a sports-crazy nation, and a new stadium is a visible public attraction that people enjoy and are generally proud of.

Twin Cities residents say that voters are against any type of public financing of a new Vikings stadium because of many socioeconomic concerns. The same can be said for other parts of the country, yet new stadium finance measures do get approved during general elections. In Denver, the community approved new stadium financing while they voted down a bond issue for new schools. This does not make sense; however, the people had the opportunity to decide, and that is what they selected. It was their choice.

In other communities, the public also voted with its wallet. According to a USA Today study “45 new stadiums were built in the 1990’s at a cost of over $9 billion.” Thus, numerous cities have had and will continue to have their say on this issue, and the opponents of total or partial public stadium financing will keep on grumbling.

Stadiums encourage civic pride

While city image is difficult to define, let me give a personal example. I live in the Twin Cities but travel extensively. Whether I am in Great Britain, Russia, or Green Bay, the people I meet want to know about Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss. The Purple People Eaters of the 1970’s may have put the Twin Cities on the map but the current Vikings’ high-flying offense has remade the Twin Cities into a year-round Purple Paradise.

Through the years, both at home and on the road, I have hosted pregame tailgate parties that have been attended by Vikings fans from each of the 50 states and 12 different countries. Over the last several years I have had numerous occasions to discuss the stadium issue with my guests. In addition, I have evaluated the impacts of stadiums on downtown areas throughout the United States and Canada and studied the opportunities for restaurants and stores in numerous shopping malls, amusement parks, airports, schools, universities and other businesses. I have also compared the benefits of single-use versus multi-user stadiums.

I have reviewed both sides of the issues, the debates, the emotion and the hype. Neither side is truly correct; however; both the pros and the cons make salient points regarding the benefits and the drawbacks of a new stadium.

A look at some of the impact issues

Football stadiums have the least overall economic impact in the sports stadium/arena marketplace. The teams play only 10 games annually. At a maximum annual rent of $10 million, they cannot support financing of more than $90 to $100 million. Most stadiums today cost a minimum of $400 to $500 million to build, not considering the infrastructure costs born by the city, county and state in which the stadium is located.

Politicians who are sensitive to their constituency and re-election opportunities often do not make stadium decisions based on what is best for the entire city. For example, when selecting locations for new stadiums, they tend to target areas where there will be the least opposition or at the least opposition that is “acceptable.” Also, many new stadiums are placed next to the old stadiums that will be torn down because fewer people oppose reusing these locations rather than going someplace new.

Stadiums could have more of an economic influence if they would be placed where a positive impact could occur, such as developing urban residential neighborhoods. Thomas Chema, of the national law firm of Arter and Hadden, believes sports stadiums are effective at generating economic activity. He criticizes Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College located outside Chicago and a leading critic of public financing of sports, for having published results of a study that found sports stadiums had a negligible impact on economic growth.

Chema claims Baade researched "essentially non-urban facilities" which, unlike recent stadiums in urban areas, were not intended as economic development catalysts. As for the stadiums that were built in urban areas, Chema believes, "the relatively few urban venues might as well have been in the suburbs because they were separated from their host city by a moat of surface parking."

Unfortunately, that will probably not happen because the average citizen who elects the politicians does not want the facility in their neighborhood. Nevertheless, stadiums in urban residential neighborhoods can have a great economic impact.

Rick Horrow, an NFL consultant, wrote a recent article in Tennessee's Business in which he advocated public financing of sports facilities, saying investing cities have received "significant, long-term economic benefits" in the form of tax revenue, direct spending (salaries, supplies, food, insurance, visitors) by the sports team, and the direct impact of new jobs and community development. As an example of the direct spending associated with such a project, Horrow cited a University of Cincinnati Center for Economic Education study in 1996 that projected the impact of construction on two local professional sports stadiums to be $1.1 billion.

Proponents argue that the positive impacts coming from sports franchises include the generation of tax revenue, direct spending by teams and owners in an area, new jobs and community development (stadiums can also be used for concerts, conventions, and festivals), and improved infrastructure. Matthew Peters also proved that a stadium is more attractive to tourists and shoppers than heavy industry in a 1996 Tennessee's Business article.

Baseball stadiums currently have the greatest economic impact of all sports venues because there are at least 81 home games per season, compared with basketball's 41 and football's 10. In the restaurant industry, the fact that most events are night games causes attendance increases to occur in the early dinner hours. However, this impact has been declining because stadiums have begun to improve their food service facilities in order to attract the dinner crowd. NFL events actually have a better impact on game days than their counterparts, because the games are usually in the afternoon and it is common to stop for dinner and/or drinks after the game.

Payroll of the Vikings players, management, staff and ground crews is a significant cost of between $60 and $70 million. Admittedly, not all of the players live in the community year round but even those who live there only during the season must pay rent, utilities, and taxes.

One criticism raised has been that stadiums only generate jobs for millionaires and minimum wage workers. That is generally true. However, vendors, restaurants, bars, and stores create numerous other jobs. While most of these jobs are low paying, they nonetheless are jobs that feed, clothe and house people. Most are seasonal or part time and because of that the teams have been criticized. That is the nature of sports - it is seasonal!

However, I wonder if the critics have ever talked to these employees to find out how they feel about their jobs. I have. Interestingly, I found that many wanted these jobs because they loved the sport, could watch the game for free and had another job for the rest of the year. I also found that the turnover of help was much lower than in the restaurant industry. Only a few said that this was the only job that they could get.

Strikes highlight economic impact

One need only consider the economic impact of the baseball strike of 1994 and the football strike of 1982 to gauge the economic void the Twin Cities could see should either the Twins or Vikings be forced to leave the area. Whether you are a baseball fan or not, one cannot ignore the fact that the strike cost over $800 billion nationally.

In Minneapolis, businesses near the Metrodome were badly hurt during the strike. Hundreds of people were laid off; restaurant sales declined drastically; taxicab fares were way off; city, county and state taxes were negatively affected and parking revenues disappeared.

For football fans on the day of the NFL strike, it was as though America was trying to convince itself that September 26, 1982, was just an ordinary day.

It wasn't, of course. It was the first full day of the football players' 57-day strike. It would reduce the season from 16 games to nine, costing league cities thousands of dollars in taxes that would have been paid on tickets, food and concessions.

In each city where football was a Sunday staple, an estimated $2 million was lost on restaurant meals that weren't eaten and hotel and motel rooms that remained unoccupied. Other businesses that relied heavily on football also suffered: sports bars, usually packed in midafternoon, had few, if any, customers.

Beyond that, 15,000 people with football-related jobs, ushers, security guards, vendors, grounds crews were out of work and without income. Charities that maintained stadium concessions as fundraisers lost thousands of dollars.

In the Twin Cities alone, Metrodome concessionaires had shortfalls of over $5 million and laid off their staff. Waiters and waitresses told how they made substantially less income than during a normal season. They had counted on those additional funds to pay for daycare services for their children or to save for a trip or education. Even the gasoline service stations felt the impact.

When critics say stadiums do not produce an economic impact, they have not done their homework. Through interviews of the players, management, ground crews, and more importantly, the staff of nearby businesses, one finds that the multiplier impact is significant. These are real people - not statistics.

But to NFL fans during the strike, who lost what or how much was not important. On that day they had lost their beloved games, and more than a few fans said, they were losing their minds, not entirely jokingly.

Stadiums and teams generate considerable taxes

If the team owns the stadium, total taxes paid to the city and state including payroll, real estate, sales, amusement, parking, parking license, gasoline, vehicle, franchise, liquor, utilities, parking tickets, and others will run over $2 to $3 million annually.

Concession sales have increased dramatically over the past ten years as more stadiums have focused upon foodservice. Many stadiums have tripled food concessions and have added full-service restaurants. Concession sales for a strong team can exceed $20 million annually and can generate over 500 to 700 part-time jobs.

Parking revenues can be substantial. Much depends upon who gets them. In most new stadium deals today, a large part of the stadium revenue goes to the teams rather than the community. Regardless of who gets the revenue, the dollars are substantial. Parking revenues for football can exceed $200,000 for a single event.

Charter bus companies usually enjoy a strong business from long-distance fans traveling to game outings. The business is stronger for baseball than football, and the degree of the success depends upon the team. Revenues range from $1 to $3 million annually for a good team.

Public transportation always gets a shot in the arm on game days. In a major urban setting, the effects are naturally greater. In Chicago, I found that over 35 percent of the fans traveling to Wrigley Field use public transportation. The primary reasons include the lack and expense of parking and the convenience of rapid transit. Sports-related revenue to the Chicago Transit Authority exceeds $1.5 million annually.

A few years ago my former Minnesota State Senator, Martha Robertson of District 45, replied to an e-mail I had sent her stating my wish that a task force be authorized for the study and feasibility of a new Vikings stadium in conjunction with the University of Minnesota. Ms. Robertson explained that she was a “member of the Education and E-12 Education Budget Division” that was “working on funding needs whose priorities will be set by the majorities of each house”. Ms. Roberston went on to say that “many in Senate District 45 feel that tax funds should not be used to build stadiums, that we need to consider multiple solutions” to other areas.

As a father of a 3-year old and concerned about education I believe Ms. Robertson is missing several key points. While the elitist left may want a bottomless money bucket for education we Garage Logicians would like to point out that the Education budget has increased each year. Perhaps Education needs to look inward to become more fiscally sound with the money it is given and allow parents, not government, to raise their children and be more personally responsible for their upbringing. And let us not forget the often economic and personal impact a sports franchise can bring to a metro area.

In total today, a NFL football team and its stadium can have an impact of between $175 billion and $225 billion on the local economy. Then there are the charitable contributions and community service to consider.

Since 1978, the Minnesota Vikings Children’s Fund has supported over 100 child-related nonprofit organizations in the Upper Midwest, providing grant monies now totaling close to $5 million dollars. It provides 50 percent of the funding for the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics to research major childhood diseases and disorders.

The Vikings alumni also give back to the community in other areas. Since 1961 many former players have chosen to remain in the Twin Cities after retiring from football. They have begun businesses, raised families and been elected to public office.

Former Coach Dennis Green gave his players each Tuesday off during the season. Many, many Vikings players choose to use this time to visit local hospitals and to read to children in their classroom. Some, such as former Vikings Randall McDaniel worked in a 5th grade classroom at Pilgrim Lane Elementary in Plymouth. Former Vikings star Robert Griffith was active in the Twin Cities community through the “Vikings Super Challenge” campaign at local schools. Future Hall of Fame inductee Cris Carter worked in the Twin Cities community through “Cris’ C.A.U.S.E.” (Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment) and is still active in the Big Brother-Big Sister program. I’d like any State Legislator, to place a value on the impact these activities have had on the children’s lives and the smiles they bring.

Professional sports are more than just big business

Do new stadiums provide a positive economic impact on a community? Yes, they do. Do new stadiums pay for themselves? Usually not. Is the public willing to subsidize a part of their funding? Typically, yes.

While professional sports are big business, sports fans still see the industry as exciting entertainment for which they are willing to pay, in order for the chance to one day be part of a winning team.

And that’s what we fans hope for, year after year!

Posted by maasx003 at 7:22 AM