RandBall: Stadium battle 'like the world's longest game of chess'
- Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- April 19, 2012 - 9:21 AM
We don't delve into stadium waters often because, well, they can be pretty murky and bleak. But what we have here with the Vikings is a perfect storm (even if we are growing to dislike that all-encompassing term, it fits here).
*A divided legislature in an election year.
*A set of plans that has jumped all over the place when it comes to location and funding -- combined with an almost daily dose of good news, then bad news.
*A cranky fan base that watched a team go from the NFC title game to 3-13 in just two years.
*An ownership group that must have thought this thing would be solved by now.
*A general population with stadium fatigue after going through year after year of this with multiple teams, including the Vikings.
*A still-shaky economy.
*One of the biggest markets in the country sitting NFL-vacant, acting as the perfect relocation threat (even if the timetable for starting construction in LA is almost a year away at best).
*A heavy-handed league willing to come in and say things like, "There are plenty of willing buyers. I think the Wilfs do not want to sell the franchise, but I think there is a point where they probably would be open-minded. I would not be surprised if [Goodell] tells the governor, if he asks, what other cities are interested."
We're possibly forgetting other things. The heart of the matter is this: We are of the mind that this thing will be solved and that the Vikings will get their stadium. Some late-game maneuverings are still going on for 2012, but we think it will come next year -- which is somewhat of a gamble. It's less of a gamble, though, when you consider how many of the most important things from above could be cleared up.
*It will no longer be an election year, a big deal for some weary lawmakers.
*A clear funding plan and location can be on the table from the get-go, including plenty of carryover work form this year (yeah, that could have happened this year and any previous year, too. Just saying ...)
*The heavy-handed league and the frustrated ownership group could be softened by the notion that, with patience, 2013 is the year it WILL happen. It might not have been when they wanted it to happen, but there's nothing to do about that now. LA would be a non-factor if the Vikings and league make it so.
*The economy might be better off. The team might be better off. Those are "ifs," for sure, but they are not the biggest parts of the stadium equation -- just possible ways the climate could be improved.
*The general population? Well, there are always going to be backers and fighters. But at least some of the vitriolic debate that has spread into the middle could be assuaged with a much smoother attempt at getting this done.
Do we have a horse in this race? Sure, primarily from the standpoints that we've watched the Vikings for the better part of three decades and now make a living writing about sports in a market where they are (still) No. 1. But we're coming at this from a logical, practical place. Maybe that's the wrong place. It just seems, for now, that everyone is playing a role. It's like the world's longest game of chess, a game with a million moves and corresponding counter-moves.
Our thoughts could be way off-base. And don't consider them anything more than thoughts. But the famous "wait 'til next year" rallying cry feels like it could be true when it comes to the Vikings stadium.
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