Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: A Minnesota without the Vikings? State's stadium drama stokes darkest fears for football fans

  • Article by: PATRICK CONDON , Associated Press
  • Last update: November 5, 2011 - 9:18 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A YouTube video making the rounds at the Minnesota Capitol these days shows a man slowly opening a gift box as ominous music thumps in the background. He folds back the flaps, reaches in and pulls out a foam rubber cheesehead — a symbol of the hated Green Bay Packers next door.

"Some things are too sickening to imagine," warns the video. "Minnesota as Green Bay Packer country is one of them."

These are scary days for Vikings fans, who wonder if they are on the brink of losing the state's most popular team if it doesn't get the new stadium it wants. A long-simmering push for a publicly funded stadium is suddenly boiling over, with a lease that expires after this season, a fat new market in California beckoning and state leaders reluctant to pony up amid chronic budget deficits and spending cuts.

For those who fear the worst, there's good reason. This is the state that already lost one team to California — the Minneapolis Lakers left decades ago — and watched the NHL's North Stars decamp to Dallas. The NBA's Timberwolves nearly left before a rescue effort in the mid-'90s kept them in town.

"My observation is, the Indianapolis Colts used to be the Baltimore Colts," said Gov. Mark Dayton, who has emerged as the chief cheerleader for some kind of stadium package. "The St. Louis Rams used to be the Los Angeles Rams. The Los Angeles Lakers used to be the Minneapolis Lakers.

"Teams leave when they can't get satisfactory resolution to where they're currently located," said Dayton, who has recalled attending as a teenager the Vikings first-ever regular-season home game in 1961 (they beat the Chicago Bears).

There are powerful reasons to believe the Vikings aren't going anywhere for now.

NFL officials have called the Minnesota market (read: TV) a valuable one. Vikings ownership would be on the hook for a hefty relocation fee likely to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars, too.

And if Vikings owners want to move in 2012, they'd have to notify the league in writing by Feb. 15, a relatively short window. Two business groups proposing football stadiums in Los Angeles haven't broken ground yet, though there are NFL-ready stadiums in the L.A. area.

No Minnesota political leader wants to be blamed for losing the Vikings, but hopes of settling the issue soon seemed to dim this week after Kurt Zellers, the Republican House speaker, called it unworthy of a special session prior to a regularly scheduled legislative session that begins in late January.

Stadium supporters fear that taking up a stadium funding issue in January could be even tougher. Minnesota government shut down over the summer as Dayton and Republican lawmakers disagreed on how to eliminate a $5 billion deficit, and the picture isn't expected to be much better three months from now.

An expansion of legal gambling is emerging as the most politically palatable way to complete a deal, though powerful factions in the Legislature oppose it. And some longtime stadium foes are against any state money being laid out for sports.

"The dollar amounts of these things keep getting bigger, while government is getting more and more pinched for money," said John Marty, a Democratic state senator who represents a suburban area north of St. Paul. "It's absolutely outrageous. If it was outrageous before, it's even more outrageous now."

The Vikings have wanted out of the Metrodome for more than a decade, calling the 30-year-old stadium obsolete and unprofitable compared to most NFL venues. The team's latest push has centered on building a $1.1 billion stadium on a suburban plot of land about 10 miles northeast of the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, but at least three downtown sites appear to still be in play. The suburban plan, in Arden Hills, calls for a state contribution of as much as $650 million.

On Friday, the Metrodome's landlords said they believe a clause deep in the team's lease could require it to stay one more season, potentially buying more time. That clause calls for a one-year extension if the team is forced to play elsewhere for part of a season. That's just what happened last year when the Metrodome roof collapsed in a snowstorm, but the Vikings maintain that this is the last year of the lease.

Dayton and other stadium negotiators said no one with the Vikings has directly threatened a move to Los Angeles or anywhere else. The team declined to make owner Zygi Wilf available for an interview for this story; Vikings vice president Lester Bagley has told The Associated Press that both Los Angeles business groups have been in contact, but has continued to stress that the team's main focus is securing a deal to stay in Minnesota.

Representatives of both firms, Anschutz Entertainment Group and Majestic Realty Co., did not return phone messages from the AP.

The Vikings aren't the only franchise on relocation alert, but the team's tie to its current city appears to be the loosest in the near term.

The St. Louis Rams have a possible out after the 2014 season. The Oakland Raiders are under lease through 2013. The Buffalo Bills intend on staying put as long as the founding owner — 93-year-old Ralph Wilson — is alive. The Jacksonville Jaguars would need to exercise a special escape clause to leave Florida but would owe the city for lost taxes and parking revenue for years to come.

In San Diego, where the Chargers have been seeking a new stadium since 2002, the team has its eyes on a new downtown site but lack financing. The Chargers could get out of a lease starting in February if a better deal surfaces elsewhere, but the team is building toward a 2012 ballot measure.

In the meantime, a lot of Vikings fans are feeling nervous.

Tyler Richter, a 30-year-old Twin Cities media consultant, made the Vikings/cheesehead video in his garage and uploaded it last week. Richter said he's a Republican and no fan of government handouts to business, but his love for the Vikings trumps that.

"Don't hate the player, hate the game," Richter said. "In this day and age, the reality is these deals don't get done without a public component. Love it or hate it, that's what it is."

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Dave Campbell in Minneapolis, Josh Dubow in Oakland, Calif., R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis, Bernie Wilson in San Diego, Mark Long in Gainesville, Fla. and John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto 6 Bottom 9th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Top 1st Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 0 Top 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 0 Top 1st Inning
Miami 0
NY Mets 0 Top 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Cleveland 0 Delayed
Minnesota 0
Seattle 0 Top 1st Inning
Houston 0
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
North Carolina 34 4th Qtr 8:39
East Carolina 63
Virginia 33 4th Qtr 1:34
(21) BYU 41
Florida 21 4th Qtr 3:00
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 3rd Qtr 6:02
FIU 3
San Jose St 7 Delayed 11:38
Minnesota 17
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Indiana 24 4th Qtr 5:00
(18) Missouri 24
Texas State 14 2nd Qtr 3:05
Illinois 6
Georgia State 7 2nd Qtr 5:02
Washington 0
Appalachian St 0 1st Qtr 13:14
Southern Miss 7
Miss State 0 1st Qtr 13:33
(8) LSU 0
Northern Ill 0 1st Qtr 12:59
Arkansas 7
Middle Tennessee 0 1st Qtr 14:00
Memphis 0
Utah State 0 1st Qtr 11:53
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 0 1st Qtr 12:04
Cincinnati 0
Idaho 0 1st Qtr 11:58
Ohio U 0
Ball State 0 1st Qtr 13:20
Toledo 6
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 2nd Half 3:00
Portland 3
Houston 0 1st Half 44:55
Philadelphia 0
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 0 14:33
Hamilton 0
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close