On Tuesday, the Vikings issued a carefully worded statement on the organization's feeling about the situation – punctuated by an ominous closing sentence.
Rather than paraphrasing or potentially sending the wrong impression, here is the statement in its entirety.
"The Minnesota Vikings want to thank the tens of thousands of Vikings fans for their tremendous support for a new stadium. We appreciate the army of fans who stand with us at this watershed moment for the future of the franchise in Minnesota.
"The Vikings organization is extremely disappointed that the Governor and State Legislature did not move the stadium issue forward this year. While we greatly respect the challenges and priorities faced by the State of Minnesota, resolution of this issue has now been pushed to the final year of the lease. This lack of action will only increase the costs of the project for everyone, plus we missed the opportunity to put thousands of Minnesotans back to work.
"The Vikings and the NFL have made significant commitments to this market -- commitments that cannot be sustained at the Metrodome. In 2006, the Vikings were asked by Governor Pawlenty and State leaders to step back and allow the Twins and Gophers stadium issues to be resolved. Those State leaders committed to work with the team to resolve this issue. More than four years later, those commitments have not been honored.
"We appeal to our State's leaders to join the bi-partisan group of legislators who have stepped up to work on securing the long-term future of the Vikings in Minnesota. This group of leaders has acknowledged that having an NFL team in Minnesota requires a stadium solution. This solution must be finalized in the 2011 Session."
It is the last sentence that has ominous overtones – and rightly so. For more than a decade, Red McCombs and the Wilf family have tried separately to convince Minnesota lawmakers that the Vikings need a new stadium and the Metrodome is little more than a dump by NFL standards. The state was let off the hook by Hennepin County, which includes all of Minneapolis and the Mall of America in Bloomington, when it passed its own tax to pay for the Twins' new stadium. Reviews of that stadium have been outstanding, and having a Major League level stadium for the first time in franchise history has created its own buzz.
The state has done nothing since McCombs made his first plea in 1999. He was summarily shot down, primarily because lawmakers could fall back on the lease, which, at the time, had 12 years left on it. By the time the Minnesota Legislature next convenes, it will do so with one year left on the lease. The time for hemming and hawing is over. The Wilfs have pledged they won't move the team out of Minnesota, but selling to another owner would accomplish that without breaking the promise.
The Metrodome is the only stadium in pro sports that makes money purely on its own merit –it doesn't require much money to maintain. Minnesota has made money off the Metrodome and off the Vikings. It isn't panic time just yet, because the reality is that, when a stadium plan comes to a vote in 2011, every senator or representative that votes against the bill will be front and center with their constituents that are Vikings fan. They may not know how many of them are out there – at least not until their next re-election bid comes if the Vikings are allowed to leave.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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