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October 10, 2006

What a great season

• As Kevin and David have already pointed out, on top of the Twins winning the AL Central, this was a great season because on May 21st, the continued existence of the Twins in Minnesota was secured by the state legislature. In fact, now that I think about it, this whole playoff run was greatly enhanced by the fact that I didn't have to continually think about how the run would affect the team's next stadium attempt, or whether or not the team would even be around in a couple of years. Wasn't it nice just to be able to watch baseball this summer, and not have to think about stupid stadium politics? It was phenomenally refreshing if you ask me.

And now this offseason we will actually be able to focus on free agents, signing players, arbitration, potential trades ... you know, all the stuff that normal fans focus on during the winter months. And speaking of normalcy, my normal winter of writing legislators, crying every time I open the newspaper, arguing with family, friends, and anti-stadium nut-jobs (sorry, I couldn't resist), getting my hopes up, and having my hopes crushed ... well, my winter won't be normal at all! That just makes me too happy for words.

• Or maybe not. Some people have wondered if I would take up the Vikings' crusade for a new stadium. In the past the answer was always easy. You see, it wasn't a problem for me, as a Hennepin County resident, to tell the legislature to tax me for a new Twins stadium. In fact, I welcome it. I want to be taxed for a new Twins stadium and as a Hennepin County resident I am thrilled to pay for it. Come January 1st, every time I go out to buy something at Target (or whatever), I won't call it shopping. Oh no. I'm going to call it "paying for a new Twins stadium." For example: "Honey, I need a new set of screwdrivers. I'm going out to pay for a new Twins stadium." Or, "Do we need some more toilet paper? Let's go out and pay for a new Twins stadium." I'm really looking forward to it.

And, as always, if you aren't looking forward to it ... if the very thought makes you cringe, shudder, weep, or even vomit, I am very, very sorry. I really am. You gave it your best shot, and it could have gone either way. It just didn't work out for you. So, sorry again.

Back to the Vikings, though. I have always had a problem with vocally supporting a plan where I wouldn't acutally be taxed. It is not as easy to say, "Tax Anoka County so I can watch the Vikings." But let's recap what is happening on that front. For years the Vikings have been working with Anoka County to build a stadium up in Blaine. Unless you are living under a rock, you know that the last legislative session revealed some serious problems with their "plans" and a possible rift in their relationship with Anoka County. I say "plans" because they were so shaky they changed as often as Brett Favre throws an interception (zing!). And now we have Anoka County leaning towards a referendum. Given a good plan, I think a referendum would actually pass, but right now their plan is confusing and, again, it is too fluid. They can't even decide on whether or not to have a roof.

In other words, as has already been reported in the media, it would be surprising if a Vikings stadium is built in Anoka County. In fact, you could probably give the media some of the blame. They have painted a very grim picture that will surely affect the state legislature next session. That is, unless the Vikings have a rock-solid plan that crosses all the i's and dots all the t's. But that is unlikely.

That leaves the other plans we have heard about in the past couple of weeks. How about a Vikings stadium at Canterbury Downs? Don't bet on it. For one, the area would need some serious upgrading to handle that kind of traffic, and secondly the NFL would probably have some serious reservations about being that close and tied to all that gambling. I would if I was the NFL. Plus, Canterbury Downs is probably only throwing this out there to get the legislature to allow them to expand gambling at the facility. Probably beyond just slot machines. It just ain't gonna happen.

That brings us to the Vikings recent talks with Minneapolis. We all know Zygi has been talking with Rybak, and that Zygi has been in discussions with the Star Tribune concerning the land they own around the Metrodome. And now we have a great article by Kevin Seifert about what we all know deep in our hearts: the Vikings best chance for a new stadium is in Minneapolis. Plans are being circulated among Minneapolis business leaders, and discussions are happening in downtown boardrooms. The question now is: when will the push for a stadium in Minneapolis become the only push?

Anoka County will fail to win the legislature's approval this next legislative session. The Vikings may try to put a Minneapolis plan together, but talks are too preliminary for that to happen this year. They need a rock-solid Twins-like plan to get anywhere and they aren't even close. I don't see anything happening for the Vikings for at least three years. And even then they'll still have a year on their Metrodome lease.

And speaking of the Metrodome, and this brings me to the crux of this rambling post, really deep down in all of our hearts I think we all know that the best chance for the Vikings to improve their lot is a renovation of the Dome. The legislature would throw money at them. It would be cheaper than building a new stadium (by how much? that is the question) and the legislature could justify the expense because quite frankly it needs renovation. Think about it. Once the Twins and Gophers leave, the Dome will be all for the Vikings. Zygi could probably buy it for a $1 ala the Rogers Centre in Toronto, take over management of the facility, expand the concourses, improve the suites, etc. etc. He could even purchase that Star Tribune land and build some tailgating lots. Seriously, if Zygi really wanted to put this mess behind him, his best bet is a renovation of the Dome.

I see this happening in the next 4 years. I could be wrong, in fact it is highly likely, but I still think the Dome is a good football facility. I like watching Vikings games in the Dome. Renovate it so that it is completely for the Vikings and they may not lead the league in revenue, but they certainly wouldn't be at the bottom anymore.

That's how I feel right now. I might change my mind in the next few years, but for now I plan on studying the old renovation plans. I'll let you know what I find out.

Posted by snackeru at October 10, 2006 6:53 AM

Comments

You raise some good points. I have never been in favor of a renovated Metrodome, but perhaps it could work. There are, however, two problems with the plan, neither of which are of such importance that they would stop a possible renovation. First, I think we are all ready for the Vikings to move back outside where they belong. Moving in from the Old Met (4 Super Bowl appearances) to inside at the Dome (0 Super Bowl appearances) was not a good thing. Second, I much prefer football on grass to football on turf. I do like your idea of purchasing some tailgating lots, which have been sorely missed at the Dome. The basic point for me is that as long as the Vikings are in Minnesota, I truly do not care if it is a new or renovated stadium, or if it is in Minneapolis, Blaine, or Bemidji.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at October 10, 2006 8:57 AM

This post is exactly why the Greet Machine is needed. Good, lucid analysis, very little toad-i-ness, cogent arguments, and a Brett Favre zinger.

Compare that to the hystrical sky-is-falling, it's all a conspiracy take by the anti-stadium zealots and its easy to understand why Greet Machine was instrumental in getting a Twins ballpark built.

Enough fawning, what crazy NBA rule change or Timberwolves trade are you going to suggest, making me take back all the good things I just said about you?

Posted by: freealonzo at October 10, 2006 12:09 PM

Ummm ... Vin Baker was a good signing?

Posted by: Shane at October 10, 2006 2:43 PM

Shane,

As a season ticket holder, I would agree with you on the Dome renovation. If they could widen the concourses, renovate the restrooms so you are not peeing cheek to cheek with some fat, drunk, Packer fan (zing), and add the tailgating lots, the Dome would be just fine. I think most people "say" they want outdoor football back, but are glad we have a dome in December.
In regards to lobbying outside your county, I personally don't have a problem with it because I spend a lot of money in Hennepin County and would spend a lot in Anoka County if the stadium somehow happens there. Nice to see you bloggin again.

Posted by: zooomx at October 13, 2006 10:52 AM

The problem with a Metrodome renovation is:

1. I think it would end up costing about 2/3 the price of a new stadium, minimum. At least that's where it was about 8 years ago when the MSFC first proposed it. Granted the cost of a new stadium has sky-rocketed since then, but I assume the cost of a major renovation has sky-rocked as well. If I'm the Vikings, I say, "OK, I'll accept a renovated Metrodome if you insist, but my contribution to this will be $0. No matter how you renovate this, I will still have no parking renvenue, and limited suite and club seat revenue. My only contribution will be to sign a new lease." With the Vikings contributing nothing, the cost the public will be about the same as if a new stadium were built, so what's the point?

2. To really do it properly, you'd have to wait until the Twins and Gophers are out in 2010, and the Vikings would have to move out for a couple years. Where could they go? Right now, Madison is the closest major football stadium, and the thought of them playing there is horrifying. I guess they can play in the new TCF Bank stadium for a couple years, but being limited to 50,000 seats will be a major revenue hit.

I still think it's a shame that they couldn't work something out with the State Fairgrounds and the Gophers to do a combined stadium. I'm all for on-campus Gopher football, but building two stadiums for 16 games a year is asanine.

Posted by: David Howe at October 14, 2006 7:21 AM

Here's a plan that I know will never happen, but I think would be neat for a lot of reasons:

Build the stadium just off of I-90 on the Minnesota/South Dakota border. This is only about 5 miles from Sioux Falls, so it's not in the middle of nowhere. The Vikings have a huge fan base in SD and Sioux Falls in particular.

Sioux Falls has made two very good proposals to get Vikings training camp that were rejected only because the Vikings feared backlash from the State Legislature.

I know that the marjority of season ticket holders are probably in the Metro area, but it's not like 80% of them are. And as much as they might complain, I believe those people would still come, it's only a 3 hour drive 10 times a year. I believe Sioux Falls has the second-highest % of season ticket hodlers, obviously those fans would love it, as well as any in the southern 3rd of MN. It would suck for Viking fans in northern MN, but really, if you were willing to drive 3 hours, you'll probably be willing to drive 5.

Ultimately, I have no doubt they could sell out a 70,000 seat stadium in this location. Even if they only retain 75% of current season ticket holders they could easily replace these with new ones from this area. While it may not seem so, within 75 miles of this location there are well over 200,000 people considering Sioux Falls, Sioux City, IA, etc.

So then, how would this be paid for? The state of SD would give thier left arm to get the Vikings or even half of the Vikings as in this case. I think they would pay for half. The Vikings could pay for 25% and the state of MN for the other 25%. I would assume the overall cost would be much less. I don't know that a retractable roof is needed, as there's no intent to get the Super Bowl or anything (the thought of them having it here is laughable.) Also, the land would be dirt cheap.

Posted by: David Howe at October 14, 2006 7:42 AM

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