When the news hit that the Vikings had a deal worked out with Reggie Fowler and his ownership group, many fans suffered panic attacks similar to those experienced when Red McCombs first bought the team -- an outsider who would be much more likely to relocate the Vikings if a stadium deal couldn't be reached.
VU wasn't in that group...at least not at first. As we saw it, McCombs had given up on trying to get a stadium deal. Any new owner would at least have some willingness to fight for a new stadium -- or so it was thought.
Our view of the new ownership group has soured considerably. When Fowler first emerged as the point man in the new ownership group, he was evasive about how he has made enough money to be the $300 million majority partner. That was in February. Three months later, Fowler still hasn't sold the company that he told reporters would net him the required up-front money to make the purchase and, with just three weeks to go until the next round of owners meetings, it looks unlikely that we will hear anything else good on that front.
In fact, Fowler's inability to prove he has enough money has pushed New Jersey developer Zygmunt Wilf to the front. Wilf has all the public cache of Salman Rushdie -- and is just as easy to locate. He has ducked phone calls and interview requests for months and once he has made any comments, they have come as a something of a shock to nervous Vikings fans.
Wilf is scheduled to meet this week with Blaine officials about the proposed stadium site. He claims a roof isn't necessarily a priority -- despite comments that a stadium without a roof would be a deal-breaker for Anoka County. He has also mentioned a track of land near Lino Lakes -- off the less traveled 35-E interchange -- as an alternate.
While many fans have jumped on the Glen Taylor bandwagon because they know a Minnesota native wouldn't move the Vikings unless he absolutely had to, VU had avoided it. The thought of the first minority owned NFL team was something we saw as groundbreaking and a good thing for the Vikings and the league.
Three months later, that opinion has changed. Fowler has done nothing to prove he has anywhere near the money needed to be the general partner -- including justification that he even has the money required. Wilf has done his Invisible Man imitation ever since his name surfaced as one of the other partners in the ownership group. He has ducked calls and denied interview requests. In short, he has disrespected the fans of the Vikings by his inaction -- giving the impression that he doesn't need to answer to fans or even the Blaine officials that have put their political futures on the line by taking the chance.
There are still some hurdles to jump, but one thing that had seemed like a logicial conclusion no longer does -- that the Vikings would be better off without McCombs. While Red has no interest in further frustration in stadium proposal denials, the new group has demonstrated nothing -- whether it be a personal commitment to staying in Minnesota, the money to run the team or even the guts to stand up like men and face the people who want to embrace you.
Hopefully, the NFL is paying attention to the non-developments that have come along in recent months. With three weeks until the next owners meetings, we're no closer now than we were in February. If there is some common sense, the league will tell Fowler and Wilf and whomever else is hiding behind trees or under rocks in their ownership group to just go away and return to the shadowy world of concealment from which they came and let the Vikings fans worry about a different owner.
Wilf He or Won't He?
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