For those weaned on the Internet, less than 30 years ago, there were four daily newspapers in the Twin Cities – The Minneapolis Star, Minneapolis Tribune, The Minnesota Pioneer and The St. Paul Dispatch. When both papers quit doing twice-daily printings, the era of the Star-Tribune and Pioneer Press began.
While both are in the same field of endeavor – and both feeling the crunch of the lack of immediacy of printed word – they have flared up in competition before. It would appear the stadium deal the Vikings have struck with Ramsey County will only move the team's potential new home 12 miles, but they're a world apart as far as the newspapers are concerned.
When the Vikings moved to the Metrodome from Metropolitan Stadium in 1982, the media war had a decided Star-Trib bias. Photos have always been a hallmark of newspapers and, because the Metrodome was built on land adjacent to the Star-Tribune and owned by the newspaper, it was a coup. They could have photos of a bottom-of-the-ninth inning home run or a touchdown in a Monday Night Football game because of their proximity to the event and ability to set type and develop photos. In current technological terms, those were caveman days back then. Even so, the Strib had the bigger club.
Tuesday's announced agreement between the Vikings and Ramsey County gave the state the best possible stadium funding option – one that would ask the state's share of the $1 billion retractable-roof stadium to be less than one-third of the total cost.
Today's competing Twin Cities newspapers took very different approaches to covering the story. As is their crutch, most readers interested in the top stories had to go to their respective websites to get their perspectives. How different they were.
In The St. Paul Pioneer Press, there was a story titled "Vikings go long, teaming with Ramsey County to build $1 billion stadium in Arden Hills" complete with two self-proclaimed Superfans.
The story began with a quote from Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett proclaiming, "It's football season in Arden Hills." The first paragraph cites Bennett arm in arm with Zygi Wilf announcing an agreement had been reached to build a stadium complex.
The tone in the other Twin City daily was markedly different.
The headline on the Star-Tribune account of the story was "Vikings, Ramsey Co. strike deal" with the sub-headline "Billion-dollar plan faces obstacles at the Legislature. Money needed for major road improvements could be a problem." Instead of costumed supporters, the Star-Tribune ran an artist's conception of the new stadium. However, in the first paragraph of its story, the news of the Vikings-Ramsey County agreement was acknowledged, but followed up with the concluding phrase, "capping a day of furious negotiations and brushing aside concerns from Gov. Mark Dayton and others that the project may be seriously flawed."
One press conference. One announcement. Two very different interpretations.
It would seem as though, while the old-school newspaper wars are a thing of the past, their partisan stances when it comes to their turf remains. With two weeks remaining in the Legislative session, the state effectively made a challenge to the Vikings to find a partner in a stadium effort. They did.
However, the two largest media sources in the state of Minnesota are taking opposite opinions on the latest developments in the Vikings stadium. It would seem the 100 yards of turf on a football field has found itself in the middle of an old-time turf war.
He followed up his initial tweet with the following gem: "Right about now we would be slaving in 100-degree heart, practicing twice a day while putting our bodies at risk for nothing." That didn't sit well with Saints fans or players.