State Says No-Go To Stadium Study

A week after there seemed like a little light at the end of the tunnel with a $2 million study being approved by the Minnesota Senate Taxes Committee, the full senate removed the study from its tax bill Wednesday by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

The state giveth, the state taketh away.

That was the feeling following a decision by the Minnesota State Senate to overturn a proposal that would have spent $2 million on a study of how to replace the Metrodome with a publicly funded stadium. The study was expected to be the precursor to a campaign for the 2009 legislative session for the nearly $1 billion stadium. Instead, the study was removed from the Senate Tax Bill by a vote of 42-22. Last week, the Senate Taxes Committee had approved the study.

While the study is still likely to get done, it will be paid for by the Vikings and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. However, the nearly 2-to-1 margin against the study sends another troubling sign that Minnesotans are balking at using public money to pay for a stadium. Considering how many other cities, counties and states have ponied up money to contribute to stadium construction, it would seem that if Minnesota lawmakers continue to dig their heels in the sand, the Vikings might eventually go the way of the Lakers and professional football and, unlike basketball, might never return to the area.

* The NFL owners meeting concluded Wednesday with no action on what was thought to be the most potentially sweeping change of all the proposals – a plan to seed playoff teams by record rather than by giving the top four seeds to the division champions. Before a vote could be taken, it had become apparent that there was enough opposition to the plan that, after an informal vote, it was withdrawn from consideration and might be brought up again next year.
* What Vikings fans might call "The Poole Rule" passed at the owners meeting – a requirement that receivers come down with both feet inbounds as opposed to the previous rule that would award a reception if the officials deemed a player was pushed out of bounds. Had that happened five years earlier, the Vikings would have made the 2003 playoffs. The only exclusion to the rule? Something VU staffers immediately pondered - a player catching a jumping player in the air and carrying him out of bounds. That will still count as a reception.
* One plan approved that might have its share of controversy down the line is the approval of allowing a defensive player to have his helmet wired similar to what quarterbacks have on offense. While a QB is always on the field, the defensive player – most likely a middle linebacker – isn't always on the field. That means that one other player will have to be designated on specific plays to be the player with the helmet. * Other rules changes approved at the owners meetings included allowing teams to defer their decision on the coin toss to the second half, making field goals and extra points subject to replay review to determine if the ball went over the crossbar and through the uprights, the elimination of the 5-yard facemask penalty (they will all be 15 yards now) and making a direct snap from center that is untouched by the quarterback a live ball instead of a false start.
* The NFL would like to see the Packers retire Brett Favre's jersey as part of the nationally televised season opener against the Vikings.
* At the owners meetings, Brad Childress expressed some frustration that Matt Birk isn't taking part in the offseason (voluntary) workout program. Birk is looking for a contract extension. The Vikings were hoping he would accept a pay cut. Neither has happened.

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