Legislative Committee Kills Stadium Bill

Although it didn't strike a total death blow, the Vikings' stadium plan got shot down in committee Monday by the Minnesota Legislature, making it much more difficult for any stadium plan to move forward.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the stadium plan for the Minnesota Vikings. Monday, the Minnesota State Legislature may have taken a big step to making those contentions moot.

By a 15-5 vote, a House committee voted down a request to move forward with the proposal, some representatives going so far as to say the discussion was a "waste of time at this point."

Among the contentions brought up was the plan itself -- which calls for a fixed roof dome instead of a retracting roof, questions about the stadiums location and concerns over the University of Minnesota's ability to construct a $60 million parking facility for the dome.

The university has been increasingly skeptical of the dome and the role the U of M plays in the process. The legislators listened to many of those issues and rejected the plan by a 3 to 1 ratio.

Viking officials contend the matter isn't dead in the water this session. A revised bill for the Senate could get more approval and, as anyone with familiarity with the Legislative process knows, bills are added and deleted to larger spending budgets all the time and the possibility still exists to get off of Square One on this matter. However, the vote Monday continues to send a clear message that any stadium proposal -- at least for now -- won't include taxpayer dollars when the state is facing a short-term $2 billion shortfall in its own budget.

* The Glazers finally got their head coaching job filled and paid a far too heavy price. Instead of hiring an interim coach for a year and waiting for Jon Gruden or Steve Mariucci to become available for no compensation, the Bucs signed Gruden Monday and gave up a king's ransom for a coach -- a first- and second-round pick this year, a first-round pick in 2003 and a second rounder in 2004. In addition, they got pimped for $8 million in cash to help Al Davis pay for a new coach.
* There is early speculation that the new coach could be Dennis Green, who has quietly said he would consider returning to the NFL if it was with the Raiders or 49ers. His chance is here, but there are lingering doubts, as reported last month by VU, that the alienation he had with Rich Gannon, who was benched and then traded by Green, can make peace. However, as the search for a successor to Gruden begins, Green is atop the short list.
* Another point in Green's favor is that the Raiders have just nine days to deal with assistant coaches from other teams for the head coaching position. As of March 1, no current NFL assistant with a contract can be hired away -- giving Green a better shot at getting the job.
* If Green gets a job with Oakland, any salary he would be paid under the buyout amount of his contract would not have to be paid by the Vikings.
* The Houston Texans filled out their roster with 19 picks in the expansion draft and Brad Badger was not one of them. VU reported yesterday that the Texans viewed Badger as one of the top OL prospects, but, after committing more than $30 million in current cap space to eight top-flight players -- including a pair of offensive tackles -- the Texans went cap conscious, taking Washington's Matt Campbell, who can play all five offensive line positions, and Philly's Ryan Schau, who has a cap number of just $563,000.
* Mike Tice has said he intends both Badger and Robert Tate, exposed in the expansion draft, to be back with the Vikings. However, the same isn't expected for Ed McDaniel, Orlando Thomas and Troy Walters -- all of whom can be released as early as next week and all three are likely to get the hook.
* VU reported last week that Jim Marshall was going to be brought in as a training camp assistant to work with the defensive linemen. Now, not only is he going to help out at training camp, but the team's second mini-camp as well. In addition, VU has been told an offer has been extended to former All-Pro center Mick Tingelhoff to work with offensive linemen.

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