In the past week our politicians have chased after the Minnesota Vikings with more enthusiasm than a bunch of Target shoppers after Missoni bath towels. They've suggested every convoluted idea to raise funds short of freeing Tom Petters from prison.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak got so excited over the prospect of keeping the Vikings in Minneapolis, in fact, that he forgot how to count to seven. Rybak and Council President Barb Johnson swore they had enough votes -- absolutely, positively -- to make a deal. That was until some nettlesome reporter actually asked the other council members.
The latest gambit to raise cash came when Gov. Mark Dayton put Legacy money on the table. You know, the massive fund dedicated to the state's wildlife, art and culture. Critics immediately jumped on Dayton's idea, saying the Vikings didn't fit the Legacy mission of supporting "art" or "culture."
Well, I've seen Merce Cunningham dance (creepy), and I've seen Adrian Peterson run, and I beg to differ. What Peterson performs is a form of ballet. Violent ballet, but ballet nonetheless.
The problem is not that the Vikings are not part of our state's vital heritage, it's that they don't know how to beg for money like a starving artist or environmentalist.
After all, can you really argue that Will Steger is more significant to the state's history than Bud Grant? Hardly. Yet, there he is, dragging his dogs through the list of projects being funded by taxpayers.
The Vikings don't need threats to move to L.A., they need grant-grubbing lingo. So here goes: a few real recipients of Legacy money (I'm not making this up), and a few suggestions on how the Vikings might learn from them and get in the game.
Actual Legacy project: "A Minnesota Hero: Preserving the Will Steger Story. To begin the initial inventory of explorer Will Steger's manuscripts collection." Funding amount: $7,000.
Vikings proposal: Minnesota Zeros: Preserving the Bernard Berrian and Bryant McKinnie Tweets. Grant would fund researchers to examine how new technology allowed prominent Minnesotans to ruin their careers in record time. Special attention would be given to subconscious comedic value of McKinnie's numerous tweets about eating ribs and going to strip joints while ballooning to 400 pounds, and Berrian's criticisms of a legless legislator and stadium supporter. Amount: $900,000.
Actual Legacy project: Textile Center of Minnesota, to create a touring exhibit "showcasing artistic excellence and innovation in fiber art." Amount: $38,000.
Vikings proposal: The Face IS the Medium; Game Day Face Painting as Folk Art. Grant would fund a traveling diorama of Viking fans in their gear, with video interviews of drunk patrons explaining their "concept" and "mission."
Actual Legacy project: "Great Tap for an Even Greater Minnesota will travel to greater Minnesota providing free tap dance education and low cost performance to communities underserved regarding arts performance/educational opportunities, [whew!] fitting into its mission to expand the boundaries of American tap dance."
Vikings proposal: Great Lap Dance for an Even Greater Minnesota. Money would pay financial experts to study the impact of professional football on the thriving downtown gentlemen's club scene, with special attention on how the lavish spending by players at said establishments keeps lap dance prices artificially low for average Minnesotans. Oh, especially the disadvantaged and disabled.
Actual Legacy project: Freshwater Society. This project will provide support for the 10th Annual Road Salt Symposium at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Amount: $500.
Vikings proposal: Contextual Coincidences, Football and Crime from Carl Eller to Chris Cook. Fund would create an interactive museum of players' experiences in the criminal justice system. Curator: Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. Exhibits would include a scale model of the Love Boat and the car used by Randy Moss to push a traffic officer. Museum would be housed inside a life-size model of a state-of-the-art football stadium, including actual playing field.
Amount: $1 billion.