In the immediate aftermath of the apparent defeat of the Minnesota Vikings' stadium bill, I suggested it was time for owner Zygi Wilf to dial up the rhetoric and at least begin discussing an endgame for the franchise in Minnesota. Wilf has remained silent, but on Wednesday night a top NFL executive filled that role.
Eric Grubman, the NFL's executive vice president, told the Star Tribune's Mark Craig the situation has gotten "very serious" and raised the possibility that Wilf will sell the team to someone who presumably would relocate after the 2012 season.
"This is getting ripe," Grubman said. "You have a very dejected ownership. They've run out of options. They feel like they've done everything they've been asked to do and they can't get a vote. No one will answer the question, 'What is it going to take?' The Vikings have said, 'Give us A, B and C, what would you like us to do?' They've been told A, B and C, and they've done that. And they still can't get through."
Grubman said he didn't think that Wilf is ready to sell yet but added: "There are plenty of willing buyers."
It is important to note that a lot of emotional and inflammatory statements are going to start getting thrown around this issue. We've reached that point. But the basics of what Grubman said are totally realistic.
As we've discussed many times, it's highly doubtful that either the Wilfs or the NFL will want to remain in Minnesota indefinitely without a new stadium. And as Grubman said, there is nothing in the Minnesota political muck to suggest that the stadium would have a better chance in a special legislative session this fall or even in 2013.
State leaders are probably going to need a full-blown crisis to feel the urgency of this issue, and we can see the parameters of that crisis forming already: The specter of Wilf putting the team up for sale. I don't think Wilf wants to do that, but I also don't think he wants to continue operating the franchise in the Metrodome.
Regardless, this moment was inevitable. It's interesting that the NFL, and not Wilf himself, is sending the message. But in the end, we knew it had to come to this before anyone got any real answers.