NFC North: Minnesota stadium

A few of you have asked if there has been any progress for Minnesota's latest stadium proposal during the current session of the state legislature. The answer is pretty much "no."

The Vikings say they've made progress behind the scenes, but a lobbyist for the team's Metrodome landlord painted a dim picture of the chances a bill would make it to the floor in 2010.

During a meeting Thursday of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, lobbyist Bill McGrann said the stadium issue isn't likely to be considered until the end of next month. The session is scheduled to end May 17 but is more likely to adjourn early, according to this Star Tribune report.

As a result, McGrann said during the meeting: "The chances are getting slimmer by the day that there will be any sort of consideration of the Vikings/stadium/commission issue."

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team is still hoping for serious consideration before the legislature wraps up for the spring. But at this point, substantive discussion appears imminent.

The Vikings' Metrodome lease expires after the 2011 season. Owner Zygi Wilf has declined to sign an extension. I've maintained all along that this issue will reach crisis proportions before it is dealt with in a meaningful way, and I have no reason to change that stance now.
It's been more than a month the Minnesota state legislature convened. If you're wondering why you have heard next to nothing about Minnesota's potential stadium proposal, I can offer you two facts that help craft an explanation:
  • Like most states, Minnesota is facing a budget deficit that approaches nine figures. Last week, the deficit was pegged at $994 million. That means legislators must cut nearly $1 billion from last year's budget to break even. In that environment, it's hard to draw attention to a proposal that would require at least $600 million in public money.
  • Two state-wide polls conducted in the past five months indicate that about one-third of Minnesotans favor using public money for a new Vikings stadium. Here's more on the St. Cloud State poll from last fall, and here is a link to the KSTP-Ch. 5 poll conducted more recently. How many politicians do you know who would advance a proposal that two-thirds of voters don't favor?

The Vikings now have two years left on their Metrodome lease, which expires after the 2011 season (with or without a lockout). I've always assumed this issue wouldn't be dealt with until it reaches crisis proportions, which means nothing is going to happen anytime soon.

Los Angeles still not a viable option

February, 25, 2010
Ever since the NFL ignored the issue of Los Angeles football during an owners meeting in, well, Los Angeles, I've been downplaying the idea that the Vikings could use it as leverage to secure a new stadium in Minnesota. The situation appears unchanged a year later, as Sam Farmer explained Thursday in the Los Angeles Times.

Farmer's piece is a point-by-point account of why the NFL is nowhere close to having a team in the nation's second-largest market. As long as so many obstacles exist, it will be hard for Vikings officials to credibly suggest they have options if their Metrodome lease expires in 2011 without a new stadium agreement.

As you probably know by now, California real estate magnate Ed Roski has approval to build a stadium on land he owns in suburban Industry, Calif. But Farmer points out a subtlety that is among the impediments to this scenario:
"One of the widely held misconceptions is that [Roski] is going to build a stadium and then hand it over to a team. In fact, what he wants to do is hand over the land and the entitlements to build a stadium, and be rewarded with an equity share in a team. Then it would be up to the team and the NFL to privately finance the stadium."

There is a big difference between simply handing over land and actually building a stadium for a new team. While there is a general assumption that the NFL will one day return to Los Angeles, the current situation doesn't suggest a timetable that will make it a viable near-future option for the Vikings.