Stadium Stances Changing?

The stance of the league and the state legislature may be changing when it comes to the Vikings' stability in the state and the state's willingness to help finance a stadium.

The state of the Minnesota Vikings may have changed, thanks to the 5-0 start to the season. The complexion of the situation, along with some subtle dialogue, has created unrest within the league, the organization, and the state legislature.

Red McCombs, the owner of the Minnesota Vikings, has been rebuffed in every attempt to discuss potential options for the team heading into the future.

According to league sources this week, any discussion about the Vikings being potential plans of movement to Los Angeles have officially been scrapped.

"Any and all options in regards to the team in Minnesota, as far as being associated with the situation in Los Angeles, have concluded," a league source said. "The Minnesota Vikings are not involved in any scenario that has been discussed or presented to the league."

While the league does not promote the moving of any established franchise, they have discussed the issues McCombs believes are financially detrimental to the Vikings organization. A major obstacle McCombs has faced in his prior dialogue with the league concerning a possible move or sale of the team has been directly tied to the league's insistence that the Minnesota Vikings exhaust every possible means in Minnesota.

Moving an established franchise that is not in financial trouble, or an organization that is significantly backed by a fan base or corporate entity, will not have the blessing of the league to relocate.

Believing the Vikings are not headed to Los Angeles, the stadium and ownership issues remain high-profile obstacles for the organization as they seek additional financial benefits heading into the 2004 season.

The potential for McCombs to sell the franchise has been a hot topic for some time. Discussions with possible ownership groups, spearheaded as early as the 2001 season have gone nowhere. Reportedly, McCombs was seeking too complicated of a deal to sell the team, and a deal that we have heard would not have met approval from the league's team owners.

McCombs has been relatively silent since training camp about the state of the team and any dialogue with the Minnesota state legislature. We have learned discussions have been ongoing, with differences of opinion as to the stadium issue.

"There has been some movement and change of opinion when looking at the stadium issue for the sports franchises in the state. We understand the complexity of the issue and financial implications the state would be afforded, as well as the benefit and windfall to the teams," a state legislator said. "Right now, the overall perspective has not changed much in the past six months or so. Financially, it makes sense for us (the state) to work towards a common facility that has the ability to house more than one team.

"If that would lead to the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota football team both playing in the same facility, so be it. We are looking at what is best and financially feasible for the state, not for any specific owner, group, or organization."

A new stadium will likely eventually be built, but the question is: Will Red McCombs be around to see the Minnesota Vikings move into a new home?

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