Vikes V.P. blasts Minnesota governor

With Minnesota in the midst of a deep recession, stadium talk for the Vikings has been dismissed or laughed off by many lawmakers. On Wednesday, Vikings V.P. of Stadium Development Lester Bagley shot back, reminding fans that the Vikings have just three years left on their Metrodome lease and prospective owners and cities are looking to get the NFL regardless of the economic climate.

The Vikings have maintained for some time that the organization will remain in Minnesota, despite the lack of any tangible effort to get a new stadium built. Now with the state in a deepening financial crisis, things have gone from bad to worse.

Throughout the waiting while the Twins and Gophers each got stadium deals, the Vikings have been left on the outside looking in. Governor Tim Pawlenty has gone out of his way to say that he doesn't favor public funding for a stadium. On Thursday, Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs/stadium development, took a shot across the bow at Pawlenty – saying his inactivity has hurt the cause of getting a new stadium built.

Bagley reiterated that the Vikings have only three years left on their Metrodome lease and said that potential owners from other markets (translastion: L.A. developer Ed Roski) will be looking for a team to relocate. In that case, he intimated the Vikings might be forced to leave, saying the result is "not going to be a favorable outcome for the Twin Cities."

Bagley took direct aim at Pawlenty, saying that the governor has been more of a problem than a facilitator when it has come to the stadium issue.

"With all due respect, he's been the governor for six years and he hasn't done anything," Bagley told beat writers on Wednesday. "He hasn't lifted a finger to engage in a problem-solving discussion to help us on our issue and that's the frustration that the NFL feels, that our ownership feels and a lot of our allies (feel) – whether they be elected officials or not. There's a lot of frustration. There's been no meaningful engagement by the executive branch."

It has seemingly been a foregone conclusion that the State Legislature won't even discuss a new stadium at this session because Minnesota is facing a $5 billion deficit in the next budget biennium. However, this is perhaps the first time the Vikings organization has delivered a glove-slap to one of their political opponents – and perhaps a sign that things may not be as safe in terms of a long-term solution to keeping the Vikings in Minnesota.


  • Although many view Brett Favre as the "quarterback who cried wolf," given his explanation as to why he is retiring – arm soreness that would likely require surgery to continue his career – there is a growing sentiment that this time his retirement will stick and that those holding out hope that he somehow becomes a Viking in 2009 will be as disappointed as when they got their hopes up last year.

  • In another Favre-related item, word emerged that Favre has already submitted his retirement papers with the league – something he didn't do last year when he initially announced he was quitting.

  • Jerry Porter, the wide receiver who signed a six-year, $30 million contract with $10 million guaranteed just last year with the Jaguars, was released Wednesday. CB Drayton Florence, who was handed a six-year, $36 million deal with $11 million guaranteed, was also released by the Jags Wednesday.

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