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August 12, 2004

Tags and Stadiums

What's that you say? I forgot about some stadium news last week? How dare you! I most certainly did not forget, I've just been taking some time to mull it over before I spring it on you when you least expect it. As you probably already know Tagliabue had some words about the Viking stadium issue when he was in town last weekend to witness the Chiefs and the Vikings try to kill each other. Tagliabue began his news conference with a little blah, blah, blah before he got to what was on everyone's mind, a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota:

"I know the stadium has been an issue, I have spoken several times with the governor, and met with him. We are just going to keep working on that, and taking advantage of what this team is; a meaningful asset opportunity for the state, and try to continue to work with the authorities to get a stadium done. I have been a bit frustrated, some of the other people have been, maybe not as much progress has been made as we had certainly hoped. We are going to re-double our efforts, and try to make certain that this team is here in a new stadium in the near future."

Roughly translated, Tagliabue actually said:
"Holy cow you Minnesotans sure put up a fight when it comes to publicly financed stadiums! I mean, yikes! But thanks to that dag-blasted lease, not to mention the bane of my existence (aka the 'Rozelle letter'), there isn't a whole lot we can do besides whine and moan some more and hope that you believe our threats that we could move the team to LA."

Tags was then asked if there was any timetable on building a new stadium and he answered:
"Well for me the timetable is last year or the year before. I'll take my lead from the leadership, and from the team. We've been very successful in over 20 cities in responding to the needs of each community, and tailor making solutions to each community; different kinds of public/private partnerships, different kinds of facilities."

Roughly translated he actually said:
"Usually all the NFL has to do is say 'jump' and most cities say, 'How high?' I mean, 20 cities have already ponied up the money to get it done. We just say you need the NFL, or the NFL is going to need to move to LA and it get's done with very little private investment."

Tags was then asked if he is surprised something hasn't been done yet and he answered:
"Nothing surprises me because these are complex projects. They do have to be tailor made to each community, each state, and each franchise. It takes time, but at some point you would think that things would collate, that it seems like some of the solutions would have been out there, merit support, and I would hope that it could get done ... There are three [NFC North] divisional opponents with new stadiums, so that is the reality of the situation. "

Roughly translated he actually said:
"The Green Bay Packers have once again proven that they have better fans and a better tradition than the Vikings. Even the Lions have built a stadium and they haven't been to the playoffs for what ... like 100 years! What is wrong with you people?"

Tags was then asked if he has any comments on the possibility of Glen Taylor buying the team:
"I have met with a number of individuals who expressed interest in the Vikings, as I meet with individuals expressing interest in other teams. Right now my focus is trying to understand from the leadership here in the state; the collective leadership, the business community leadership, as part of that I would put the Vikings ownership, Red McCombs and his executives here. My goal at this point is to understand what the dynamics are that could produce a consensus on a stadium for the Vikings. Hopefully we can get that done sooner rather than later. Whether people want to buy teams or not buy teams is really beyond me. What we can have an impact on as a league is getting stadiums built. At least for now we have the ability to invest some league money in a stadium. I am going to focus on the stadium and not on the ownership."

What he actually said was:
"Well, I'll give you Minnesotans credit for one thing, I wouldn't trust that son-of-a-gun Red McCombs as far as I can spit, and I can't spit worth a hill of beans! I include him in the equation only because I have to, and truth be told he has made a royal mess out of everything with his veiled threats and his phony Texan hospitality. Everytime he mentions the Vikings could move to LA I just about self-combust. He is so far down the list the Packers have a better chance of moving to LA at this point than the Vikings. And I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for this whole 'Purple Pride' business Red has come up with. Frankly I'm ... I'm ... well I'm just speechless about the whole thing. On behalf of the entire NFL I offer my sincerest apologies."

Finally, Tags was asked if the NFL would ever consider increasing the money it provides for stadium construction. Tags answered:
"I don't think so. We have a formula that has been followed in all of the situations that we have dealt with in the last five years, it's an unprecedented commitment by the league. There is no other league; basketball, baseball, hockey which does anything like that."

This could be translated as:
"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh my ... seriously you guys have made me pee my pants. That is rich. Let's just put it this way, Major League Baseball will be more popular than football again before we increase the funding. Man, you guys are hilarious!"

If you can't tell, I'm of the opinion that Tagliabue's comments are almost completely meaningless. He's said them before and he'll say them many times again before the Vikings lease expires in 2011. Tags could dress up in a clown suit and howl at Phil Krienke for two months straight and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Minnesota politicians are so proud of what they've done (or not done) with the Twins that we may never see a stadium built for either team.

Here is what I think is funny, Minnesota politicians actually think the public will back their decision not to build any stadiums. Wow, is that decision going to come back and bite them. The public is a very fickle bunch and once they figure out what not having the Twins and Vikings has done to their state it won't be pretty. If the legislature never passes a bill to build a Vikings stadium and the team actually does move to LA or somewhere else (after 2011 of course) the public is going to be Angry, with a capital A. 75% of Minnesotans have their TVs tuned to the Vikings on Sunday afternoons in the fall. 75%!!!! If a stadium did get built some anti-stadium folk would be really upset, there is no disputing that. But if a stadium didn't get built and the Vikings left? Oh my ... people would come out of the woodwork in condemnation. It would be a bloodbath.

That's what I think anyway.

Posted by snackeru at August 12, 2004 7:24 AM | Stadiums


Good to see that you have conceded that the Packers have better fans and a better organization than the Vikings. It warms my heart to see a stout Viking fan acknowledge that the Packers are indeed better.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at August 12, 2004 12:44 PM

No, no, no ... did you not read carefully enough? That is what Tags said (subliminally), and he only said it to raise the ire of Vikings fans everywhere. "Packers are a better organization" ... pffff! Please. When the Vikings sweep this year we shall see who has the better organization. Oh yes, we shall see. I should call in my order to Fuddruckers right now, as a matter of fact.

Posted by: Shane at August 12, 2004 12:51 PM

I believe that Tags is eminantly qualified to judge organizations and his declaration of the Packers superiority strikes the truth with such ferocity like the hammer of Hephaestus did of ages ago. Another glorious Packer season is upon us with a NFC North crown all but assured. A Triple Cheeseburger shall be mine!!!!!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at August 12, 2004 2:01 PM

You do raise an interesting point, Shane. Perhaps Minnesotans aren't as big as sports fans as we think. Denver, Green Bay, and Philadelphia are only three of the many cities that easily passed stadium bills. In the cases of Denver and Philadelphia, it was more than one! Why has there been such a struggle in Minnesota? Are Minnesotans too pragmatic about the use of public money, or do we not care as much about our teams? It pains me to write that, but I think the question must be asked. The thought of the Broncos leaving Denver or the Eagles Philly is repugnant and would probably cause something along the lines of riots and mass demonstrations. I would assert that Green Bay is a little different, as there are no other major institutions in town, such as another pro sports team or a major Division I University (with all apologies to Wisconsin-Green Bay). Why is Minnesota and the Twin Cities different?

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at August 12, 2004 2:21 PM

Did you find an online translation program that translates Tagspeak into English? The closest I could find was English-Tagalog. Maybe you consulted a tag library?

I commend Minnesotan for insisting that owners pay their fair share of stadium construction costs, but ultimately I want a (baseball) stadium.

Posted by: Oldstuffer at August 12, 2004 2:45 PM

First of all, the "hammer of Hephaestus" line is a thing of beauty. I gotta hand it to you Craig, that was good. Secondly, I may agree with you Curt if we were talking about the Twins, but the Vikings are something different. The Vikings have great fan support. I think as we get closer to 2011 something will be done. No politician in the state wants the Vikings to leave on his or her watch. That would be tantamount to political suicide. Right now, though, the legislature knows the lease is solid until 2011. There is no pressure. Our reps and senators also can't stand Red. Once Red sells, which he will, I think we will start seeing a different tune at the state legislature. Finally, look at Cleveland. Are their any better fans in the NFL than in Cleveland? Yet, they lost their team to Baltimore. Sadly, having great fans isn't enough, and all the Vikings have right now are some great fans. The Vikings need some friends in the legislature, and it doesn't look like they'll get any until 1) the Twins leave, 2) Red sells, 3) or the Vikings leave themselves and we mimic what happened in Cleveland. It sucks, but their just isn't any vision in the legislature right now, for stadiums or anything else for that matter.

Posted by: Shane at August 12, 2004 2:51 PM

"I commend Minnesotan[s] for insisting that owners pay their fair share of stadium construction costs, but ultimately I want a (baseball) stadium."

I agree, but at some point you've got to cut a deal. Our legislature is really good at getting all we can out of owners, but in the end nothing ever gets done. In ten years we're going to have to change our name to East Dakota because the Twins and Vikings will be gone thanks to our do-nothing legislature.

Posted by: Shane at August 12, 2004 2:56 PM

Shane, thanks for the complement, figured you'd like that one. The Cleveland scenario is not as simple as you are presenting. Art's leaving there caused a major shift in the NFL's philosphy and practice on franchise movement. He essentially blindsided everyone with finding a legal loophole. This has since been closed and I believe that the award of a "new" franchise to Cleveland almost immediately was the acknowledgment by the NFL that the team never should have left. The fan support there alone demanded it.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at August 12, 2004 3:26 PM

I think you're missing my point. My point is great fans are not enough to build a stadium. In Cleveland's case a corrupt owner and the fact the team actually left led to them building a new stadium. Even in Green Bay and Wisconsin's Brown County the tax to renovate Lambeau Field barely passed (wasn't it like 56% in favor?). My point is the fact that we haven't been able to build any stadiums in Minnesota shouldn't be a reflection on our fans, or demonstrate a lack of fan support. I wouldn't argue that the fans are blameless, but I would put most of the blame on the legislature for being too full of themselves. Here is another exmaple, look at Oakland. Al Davis has been begging for a stadium for years and I bet the Vikings build one before he does. Does the fact that Oakland can't build a new stadium reflect poorly on the fans of the Raiders? I think not. There is more to building stadiums than fan support. Minnesota fans know that more than anyone.

Posted by: Shane at August 12, 2004 3:48 PM

Davis got what almost amounted to a new stadium when he moved back to Oakland, and it ruined a very nice baseball park in the process

Posted by: Oldstuffer at August 17, 2004 11:10 AM

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