Minnesota Vikings: New Stadium Rejected...Time to Pack Up the Mayflower Truck?

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Minnesota Vikings: New Stadium Rejected...Time to Pack Up the Mayflower Truck?
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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf does not approve.

The lucky guy/lady/LLC that happens to be squatting on LosAngelesVikings.com might see an uptick in offers for that domain name this week. It's not just that MinnesotaVikings.com seems passé, but also that the latest stadium proposal expected to emerge from the Minnesota legislature appears to be dead in the water.

To make a long story less nauseating, the NFL's hopeful plan of delivering the Vikings almost $450 million in public money was shot down in the state's House committee by a 9-6 margin.

In an age where Republicans and Democrats can't agree on anything, representatives crossed the proverbial aisle to shoot down what might have been the NFL's last hope for a new stadium in Minneapolis.

The legislative game ball here goes to state Rep. Dean Urdahl, who asks the million-dollar question in reference to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. "Why should we help a billionaire build a stadium he can afford to build himself?"

There's probably a great analogy about a goal-line stand from Minnesota's representative body, but I don't want to sound too excited about the whole thing, especially since Vikings fans in that state face as great a chance as ever of losing their team.

Al Bello/Getty Images

The NFL's formula for creating new stadiums, up to this point, has been tried and true: Make enough friends in the local government to whip up support for a public subsidy to build your team a new home.

If that doesn't work, threaten to skip town or promise a Super Bowl. Hey, you catch more flies with honey. And don't let the weather get you down. Super Bowl week in New York City or Indianapolis is just as nice as a big game in Miami or New Orleans, right? Right?

The Super Bowl carrot worked for the Colts, Cowboys, Cardinals and the New York teams, all of which have opened new stadiums within the last six years with significant public support. All of those areas have hosted or will host a recent Super Bowl.

The NFL doesn't mind doing that; those games sell out anyway, and besides, most people don't go to more than one Super Bowl in their lives. The league likes doing that.

What the NFL doesn't like doing is dragging a city out to the pier and breaking both of its thumbs while it uplifts its team. Folks in a city have a hard time letting that go. Even a healthy smattering of Ravens fans (the older ones, at least) are still bent out of shape over the Colts leaving in 1983.

Although Clevelanders had their Browns returned to them, the state of that team makes it feel like more of a punishment than a resolution.

So what happens now with the Vikings? Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton says that the vote could prompt the team to move. But move where? To London or Los Angeles? What either of those markets offer in size, it would lack in a passionate fan base.

Those cities are just amalgams of people from other cities in their respective countries. Those football fans already have their own favorite teams, and the presence of live games.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The NFL has gone on record with regard to relocating teams; they don't want to do it. Roger Goodell told the football world just two months ago, "We want to keep our teams where they are."

But, owner Wilf has held firm that the team won't sign another lease to play in the Metrodome. The Vikings will play their 2012 games on the University of Minnesota's campus, and leave their future thereafter open-ended.

One obstacle in the stadium chase is the gradual devaluation of the game-day experience, which continues to pale in comparison to its televised counterpart.

Most diehard fans watch several NFL games on any given Sunday, an opportunity lost when factoring in weekend drives to and from the stadium. Why would fans routinely sit in traffic when they could be comfortably sitting on their couches?

Should the taxpayers of Minnesota help pay for a new stadium for the Vikings?

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We could reach a time when the NFL decides to forego stadium revenue altogether. Don't get me wrong; it won't happen anytime soon, but something has to give in to the NFL's almighty battle for fan dollars.

Fans aren't going to sit well with extra tax levies when they're already paying through the nose to support their teams as it is. And those are the folks that actually like football.

The Minnesota Vikings' battle for stadium money could be the first sign of the NFL's momentous pendulum swinging the other way. While other businesses and households have suffered through a nasty recession over the last half-decade, pro football hasn't shown any signs of slowing down economically.

At some point, we'll all have to ask what problem the NFL has with one of its teams playing in a 30-year-old stadium. Furthermore, why do they expect everyone else to help them pay for a new one?

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