In April 2012, Lester Bagley had the look of a man who hadn't slept in some time. By his own admission, he hadn't experienced a good night's sleep in weeks. But, after years of fighting a grueling battle with the State of Minnesota to get a stadium site and legislative approval for a new Vikings stadium, Bagley could finally exhale.
However, even in those early days after securing approval of a stadium bill that guaranteed the Vikings would stay in Minnesota, Bagley wasn't ready to say the job was completed.
"Now comes the hard part," Bagley said with a chuckle.
It would appear "the hard part" was making good on the pledge that Minnesota's investment as a partner in a new stadium would be paid off with events like the Super Bowl. Tuesday afternoon, to the surprise of many "in-the-know" types, Minnesota was awarded Super Bowl LII in February 2018 – the 52nd Super Bowl and 26 years after the Vikings hosted the 26th Super Bowl.
Considering what has happened in the last 25 months, it's no small feat.
Even though it's only slightly more than two years ago when the stadium bill died in a relatively anonymous (at least to Vikings fans) sub-committee, it seemed like the Vikings staying in Minnesota was coming to a tragic end. Fans tuned into the local government channels for perhaps the first time in their lives and were saddened by what they saw.
No threats had been made to relocate by the Wilf family, but without a lease the Vikings were a rarity in the NFL – a franchise that was a stadium free agent. That never happens, yet the foot-dragging of the State of Minnesota to approve a new stadium made it appear as though the odds were better that the team might leave Minnesota than stay.
Now, that's not an issue. Let fans in St. Louis and Jacksonville and Buffalo worry about the disposition of their team. Not only are the Vikings staying in Minnesota, they're bringing the Super Bowl back to Minnesota.
Perhaps owner Zygi Wilf said it best Tuesday when asked what a Super Bowl means to the people of Minnesota.
"I think this will mean a tremendous amount," Wilf said. "This is the greatest event on earth and the fans of Minnesota and the Twin Cities will enjoy this, partake in it and volunteer to work very hard to make this happen. It will also be a boost to the morale of those working on the stadium right now to ensure that it be done with the best quality and the fastest time we need to get this thing open for the 2016 season. We'll have a running start to make sure that the Super Bowl will have a track record of success."
It's been a roller coaster ride over the last 25 months, as the Vikings have gone from a team apparently heading out the door to a team that will be a part of the fabric of life in Minnesota for generations to come. The team is staying and the Super Bowl is coming back.
Now comes the hard part … pulling it off without a hitch.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
25 months: Stadium abyss to Vikings Valhalla
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