It's open season on stadium proposals in Minnesota. The Twins, whose owner approved contraction, are looking for a deal. The Vikings, who are missing out on the NFL's windfall of profits, are looking for a deal. The University of Minnesota, scared of losing a venue, are scrambling for a deal.
What do they share in common? They all want a different venue. Where do they differ? They all want their own facitily. What is the problem? They're all too stubborn to work together.
There is one solution to the stadium dilemma facing the Vikings, Twins and Gophers -- one state-of-the-art stadium for all of them. The Metrodome has served its purpose, or at least a combined stadium for the Gophers and Vikings. The Metrodome was cheaply constructed and has paid itself off. Is it an ideal locale for any of its three occupants? No. Is it the answer? No. Is going individually an answer? No.
Thursday the Minnesota State Legislature began hearing proposals for stadiums -- not stadium in the singular, but stadiums in the plural. The bottom line is that multiple stadiums are not needed. One will suffice for football -- if those in the loop can think clearly.
Casting aside the U of M, the Twins and Vikings need a closed structure. Say what you want about outdoor baseball and football, the harsh reality is that, accept it or not, Minnesota is not condusive to outdoor sports -- whether it is baseball in April or football in November or December (much less January). In an era of Legislators being more concerned with being re-elected than worrying about lost revenue, three alterate "state trough" proposals are ridiculous at best and impossible at worst.
The U of M will need a venue to play football. They had one. They razed it. That's the school's problem. Twins owner Carl Pohlad voted to contract his own team -- intoducing the word "contraction" to fans who never heard the term. Enter the Vikings.
Unlike the Twins or Gophers, the Vikings sell out their home base every game -- regardless of opponent. They are the financial Big Daddy of Minnesota sports and that should be taken into account.
It isn't new that stadiums be single-purpose. A city with a similar size and demographic -- Pittsburgh -- recently made sure the locals ponied up the sponsorship to build two stadiums. It's not like the Pirates have any chance of being perennial contenders. It was more along the lines of what will the market bear?
It's time for Minnesotans to come to that same reality. Without the Vikings and Twins, Minneapolis is simply Fargo with a better transportation system. Sports give any city its identity. With the available resources, one stadium with a retractable roof and revenue streams would suit each entity as needed -- at a cost of about $500 million. Three separate stadiums will cost $1 billion.
It's time for Minnesotans to understand that one house -- not the Metrodome -- can be the answer to the state's stadium issue. Until then, we remain at Square One...and it may not change.
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