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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
An unlikely source for Vikings-to-LA talk

By Kevin Seifert

A hat tip to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, who pointed out an interesting exchange between radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who announced his candidacy for president Monday.

Rush Limbaugh
Radio host Rush Limbaugh, shown at last season's Packers-Patriots game, was part of an investor group that hoped to purchase the St. Louis Rams.
Limbaugh had an interesting reaction when the topic somehow turned to whether Limbaugh might purchase the Minnesota Vikings and move them to Los Angeles. Here's the transcript from Limbaugh's web site:
Rush Limbaugh: "I know you're not in the statehouse any longer, but there's an issue roiling the state right now and that's the Vikings and their new stadium and how much of it should be publicly financed. The usual threats are being made: If the public doesn't chip in and build a new stadium the Vikings are gone. They'll move to LA or someplace."

Tim Pawlenty: The rumor is you're gonna buy 'em and move 'em. Is that true?

RL: (laughing) "Well, uh, this interview is about you." (laughing)

TP: (laughing)

RL: "I'll keep it focused on you."

TP: (laughing) "All right."

RL: "What's the...? Are you apprised? What's the status of that in Minnesota?"

TP: "Well, the legislature ends today and they didn't pass that bill. There's probably gonna be a special session, so it will probably come back up. But the public doesn't support it. Of course people appreciate the Vikings as an asset in Minnesota, but when I was governor, we didn't get that done for a reason because they wanted a bunch of money from the state. We did build a baseball stadium in Minnesota for the Twins, but there was no state money involved in that. The Twins and a local county paid for that. We didn't put any state dollars into that."

The exchange wouldn't mean much if Limbaugh hadn't recently been part of an investor group that hoped to purchase the St. Louis Rams. The group eventually dropped Limbaugh because of the subsequent negative publicity he brought. So it's at least notable that Limbaugh didn't say, I've been down that road before. No thanks, or words to that effect.

Zulgad asked a team official if there had been any discussions between the Vikings and a group involving Limbaugh. The team's response: "We are 100 percent focused on getting this stadium issue resolved at the Arden Hills site."

I'm sure some of you will consider this post a stretch, and I admit we're working off what wasn't said -- not anything that was. But those of us with institutional memories of this franchise know not to rule out the possibility of any scenario emerging, no matter how unlikely. In the past 14 years, four men have held news conferences to announce they had purchased the team: Tom Clancy, Red McCombs, Reggie Fowler and Zygi Wilf. That group batted .500. The NFL has no real rules about who pursues teams. It doesn't start examining details until it comes time for approval.

Wilf has said he won't move the team but has not ruled out selling to someone who would. The entertainment company AEG is poised to build Farmers Insurance Stadium in downtown Los Angeles. I've been surprised that there hasn't been more discussion of that venue while the Vikings' stadium bill remains stalled in the Minnesota political system. But unless a bill is passed this summer, such talk is only a matter of time.