The Vikings and the University of Minnesota are likely headed in opposite directions for stadiums for their teams – at least for now.
VU obtained a letter from Vikings V.P. Mike Kelly rejecting a proposed joint stadium effort that had a self-imposed Wednesday deadline. In the letter, several reasons were cited, including problems with parking, tailgate areas (like the Dome has any), traffic and potential problems with neighbors in the area.
In the letter, Kelly said that the proposed on-campus facility is "too confined and isolated to satisfy both the requirements of modern NFL football and the needs of the university and its constituents."
But that's only part of the story. VU has been told the real reason for the fallout is that the university, despite being a minority partner in the actual cost of construction, has been adamant about running the facility. VU was told prior to Monday's rejection that there was no way Red McCombs would go along with that – he already has that headache – and that such a deal would hamper his effort to sell the team.
Apparently, McCombs has always looked at the university as being a tenant -- a renter, if you will -- of the facility. The school's stance on running the operation was not what McCombs wants from a non-silent partner. His hope is to get a stadium and, if the U of M wants to play its games there, it can. But to allow the school to operate the facility year-round and dictate policy for its contribution to the stadium was never and will never be in the cards for McCombs. He's already seen how the Metrodome profits are syphoned away by those not entitled to as big a share of the pie and he won't let himself -- or a new owner -- get locked into a pimp agreement.
While the Vikings continue to maintain that they will seek a stadium in the 2003 State Legislature session, without the U of M attached to it, there is little chance McCombs, who has essentially written on the wall that he'll sell the team new stadium or not, will be given money from the public trough to make $200 million more to sell or relocate the team.
For the 1,000th time in case you've missed it, for the Vikings to move from Minnesota, the NFL would have to be willing to spend tens of millions of dollars at the minimum to fight the matter in court. The state has a signed document by the NFL commissioner guaranteeing football in Minnesota – either the Vikings or an expansion franchise – through 2011. Seeing as that money would come out of the profits the 32 NFL owners split, the required approval of owners would likely be lacking – especially for a newbie like McCombs to the old boy's club.
So, as Vikings fans have seen several times before, the team is at an impasse. The G-3 money from the NFL (about $51 million in a one-time contribution) will go away without legislative approval this year. If that's gone and McCombs doesn't make good on $100 million of his own, unless the Vikings and Twins work out a deal for a state of the art complex – a multi-use, shared revenue could still make untold millions for both – there is little chance McCombs will get his way and his sale of the team will be nearly forced.
We may be saying goodbye to Purple Pride soon. Not the Vikings, but McCombs.
* Why does Randy Moss refuse interviews so often? Because, when he opens his mouth, one of two things happens. He says something stupid or, the media interprets what he says, using each other as confirmation and runs with a half-cocked story with no validity. Such is the most recent rumor. Moss spoke out of frustration Sunday and hinted there are specific people that have contributed to the team's 3-8 record. He never mentioned Daunte Culpepper by name, but, by Monday's practice, reporters had added one plus one and got three and claimed his comment was a veiled reference to Culpepper. Such was not the case and, the next Moss tells someone to put his head somewhere physically impossible, you may know why.
* Michael Bennett is listed as questionable for Sunday's game with a sprained right ankle, but coach Mike Tice said there is a good possibility he will play, despite his current "50-50" status.
* If Bennett doesn't start, Moe Williams has been told he will be the every-down back instead of a situational back.
* OT Lewis Kelly is expected back in the lineup this week. But, with Bryant McKinnie entrenched at left tackle, he will likely be moved to left guard – taking snaps in place of Corbin Lacina.
* WR Kelly Campbell, who had his best day as a pro Sunday and caught his first career TD pass, is listed as questionable with an sprained ankle.
* The Vikings evened their own bad score Sunday. With the three fumbles at New England that were lost, the Vikings now have a league-worst 32 turnovers – 16 interceptions and 16 fumbles lost.
No Red, Maroon and Gold
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