A gift from Thor? The Nordic God of thunder, lightening storms, protection of mankind?
Many people think the Vikings' time in Minnesota may have ended with Brett Favre’s stupid but all-too-typical “Me First” pass across his body to Sidney Rice, which was intercepted by Tracy Porter in the 2009 NFC Championship game.
This bonehead move eventually saw the favored Vikings lose the game and ultimately their best chance at a Super Bowl and a new stadium since the 1998 NFC Championship run a decade earlier.
No, in reality, the Vikings' time in Minnesota likely ended on Nov. 2, 2010, when in a nationwide tidal wave, Minnesota’s legislative body unexpectedly flipped from overwhelmingly Democratic to Republican control. This unforeseen change didn’t just bring in a new change of party but a new ideology, one that is against spending, taxes and sports stadiums.
In a classic case of “be careful what you wish for,” Democrats who helped pass legislation that saw Target Field finally built for the Minnesota Twins after a nine-year struggle and the Minnesota Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium after a six-year struggle were thrown out in favor of political ideologues.
Today, the current leadership looks like this and it's not that hard to see a correlation on why stadium legislation is stalling:
- Minnesota Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers. He is widely credited with having single-handedly stopped any momentum for a special session.
He has also said, "The Vikings' stadium can wait until January" but we all know that trick. By then, "the agenda will have already been set," "time restraints" and 2012 being an election year will be his excuses why he just can't have it, by golly. You watch.
Maple Grove, Republican
- Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch
Buffalo Minnesota, Republican
- Senator Dave Thompson Assistant Senate Majority Leader (despite being a Freshmen)
He’s actually said the following: “If you want to throw me out of office for not supporting a Vikings stadium, I’m okay with that," and “I wouldn’t be making the Vikings leave. It would be the ownership of the Vikings making a decision to leave if they do and the NFL allowing them because they didn't get what they want."
How dumb does Thompson think Vikings fans are? Needless to say, he doesn't email me back anymore. Way to pass the buck on the league and the team instead of where it belongs, Senator.
These three ideologues are against basically every Vikings stadium proposal and funding option. While Koch (Coke) is the least obtrusive of the three, all we ever hear out of her is lip service as in “The stadium is coming along” and “Progress is being made every day” but we never see the results.
Zellers? Thompson? Forget about them. Both are against public funding of the stadium in every capacity. Both are against the use of legacy funds or any forms of gambling to pay for the stadium. Neither offer any solutions or ideas on how they would rather fund the stadium because their actions prove that they really don’t care for the issue and they’d rather it, and ultimately the team, go away.
But don’t take just my word for it, here is a nice article from MinnPost.com reinforcing the matter.
This is the same website that linked my first article blaming Koch and Zellers months ago on this very issue if the team moves.
You see, that’s what this new Republican Majority does when they don’t want to address and issue or answer an email. They just ignore you in the hopes that it goes away. Its like when we were kids and were taught the best way to make a bully go away is to ignore him and eventually he’ll go away, this same playground philosophy is now being applied to our beloved Vikings by a bunch of political prudes that don’t want to spend any money.
How sad is it that the Vikings aren’t even being allowed to go down with a fight, rather I firmly believe now that the team will simply fade away and be forced to move by simple refusal by the legislature to do anything, thus forcing owner Zygi Wilf’s hand.
Instead of giving the Vikings even as much as an up-or-down vote, this legislature will likely not even allow legislation to get that far in the fear that perhaps in the 11th hour something would pass in the form of an emergency compromise, but remember this group doesn’t know the meaning of the word compromise having just forced a government shutdown earlier this summer.
In the end its not fan apathy which caused the Vikings to move evidenced by their 55,000 season ticket holders or an unwilling ownership, no its Republicans who with their new majority and new numerical power decided long ago enough was enough as they drew a line in the sand.
I communicate with a few legislators weekly and I can sense a divide amongst their ranks. I know not all Republicans in Minnesota are bad which is why I’ve chose to highlight a few more here. Think of it as a guide of who to vote out of office when their terms are up and who to contact in the meantime.
The following House Republicans all signed this editorial "State GOP leaders: New Vikings stadium not a necessity" a few weeks back unifying their efforts against a special session that was widely seen as necessary to save the team from moving to Los Angeles. Notice they did not say "at this time" or "Next year we'lll discuss it."
They willingly put their names to this column thus making it very easy to know where they stood on the matter so they can be voted out of office. Its all there. All you have to do is google each name and their connection to the Vikings stadium issue. I thanked them for that in an email that unsurprisingly went unanswered since that is precisely the class and professionalism that lacks from this legislative body. If any of these are your Representatives, you can contact them here.
Steve Drazkowski -Mazeppa District 28B
Kathy Lohmer, Lake Elmo District 56A
Doug Wardlow -Eagan District 38B
David Hancock Bemidji Distict 02B
Linda Runbeck Circle Pines District 53A
Ernie Leidiger Mayer, District 34A
Bruce Anderson Buffalo Township District 19A
Mary Franson Alexandria, District 11B
Glenn Gruenhagen Glencoe District 25A
Ron Shimanski Silver Lake District 18A
Kurt Bills Rosemount District 37B
Peggy Scott Andover District 49A
Joe McDonald Delano District 19B
Kurt Daudt Crown District 17A
Kelby Woodard Belle Plaine District 25B
Sondra Erickson Princeton. District 16A
In addition to these, Senator David Hann-Eden Prairie said, in a defeatist tone, "We don't want them to leave, but if they're going to leave I guess that is going to happen" (from the same ESPN article linked above), and Senator Warren Limmer of Maple Grove, are two guaranteed “No” votes on any Vikings proposal, as Limmer is basically “Dave Thompson Jr.”
Next, on the Democratic side Representatives Ann Lenczewski, and Frank Hornstien, Senator Scott Dibble, and long time pest John Marty are two others who offer no solutions and hope for the team because they are anti-stadium and anti-Vikings. Given their public stances, there can be no other conclusion. You can read about Thompson, Dibble, and Limmer's opposition to any public subsudies, along with the names of more Democrats against the Vikings stadium here.
You can read about Marty and Rep. Linda Runbeck's ties and opposition to the Vikings stadium here. Look at the very title Sports Illustrated chose: "Stadium foes" as if that doesn't explain it all. They knew this "plan" as BS and had no chance of passing, hence the title.
The few Republican legislators who have emailed me back argue that is not their fault that the Democrats are just as bad and are against any efforts, but the fact of the matter remains they have the numbers and the Majority to stop the team from moving but they can’t do it because of special interest groups.
You can contact the Senate here.
The fact also remains that if the team moves, its squarely on their shoulders for a more united Republican party could have rammed through legislation but they can’t because the few good Republicans who are trying are the minority and their leadership won’t let them advance anything.
Still after 51 years and a pretty evenly split rivalry, its quite possible and probable that tonight could be the final Monday Night Football match up between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings and that is sad, embarrassing, and pathetic.
What about the Dome next year?
We all know the 29 year old Mall of America Field, aka the Metrodome, collapsed last December 12, 2010. We now heard reports that this collapse could be dubbed a “Christmas Miracle” as I call it, because a "Force Majeure" clause (google it) deep in the lease may force the team to play an additional year in Minnesota due the two home games which were played at different venues last year.
Imagine, for 27.5 years no home games were lost and now with mere 10 home games to go, a clause many people probably never heard of nor knew existed may have bought the team another year to figure this stadium situation out. If that isn’t a sign, specifically a sign from Thor, the Nordic god of thunder, lightening, and protection of mankind, than I don’t know what is. I mean, what are the chances? You can’t make this stuff up!
We also know that the Dome’s roof was just replaced in July at a cost of $25 million, and while its true that 99.9% of it was covered with insurance its still somebody’s money contributing to that, and if the building sits empty on February 16, 2012, the first day after Zygi Wilf can officially move the team after notifying the league of his intent, by the 15th then Minneapolis is going to have a problem on its hands.
I wonder if they’ve ever even thought about that?
Not only would you have a building in downtown that sits empty, and what to do with all that space and no tenant, but more importantly, the money that was just invested into the roof mere months earlier would be a total waste as it would now have to be imploded creating more clean up costs.
Finally, city leaders would have problems on their hands had they not thought in advance of what to develop in its place in the absence of a dome since that would be massive city blocks of empty pavement.
But an extra year would make all the difference, right? Wrong.
For those of you thinking “Minnesota will figure it out if given an extra year which now seems likely” to that I say, you are clearly not familiar with Minnesota and how they operate. It took the Twins 9 years to get stadium approval in 2006, the Gophers 9, and the Vikings 15+ as they were the first to ask for a new venue back in 1996.
Next, I have no confidence in this far-right ideological legislature to do anything now or a year from now which won’t make any difference. The fact of the matter is, if they don’t want to do something they aren’t going to do something and year isn’t going to change anything.
The best we can hope for is to throw them all out in 2012, specifically those obstructionists I’ve highlighted here as a good start, and start over with a Democratic legislature and hope that their party’s history of fiscal irresponsibility and tax-and-spend mantra holds true and maybe we can get something salvaged in an early 2013 special session right after they get sworn in. Or, if the Vikings are sacrificed to Los Angeles, a Democratic controlled legislature may begin working on luring the Jaguars, Rams, Chargers or Bills to Minnesota in the absence of another team and realization that a mistake was made.
In mass emails to the entire legislature, I’ve told Republicans to “prove me wrong” as I obviously hope they do, but other than that, I see no other way as these Republicans have proven time and time again that they refuse to do anything on the basis that their party is fractured at best. Enjoy a likely end of an era tonight, courtesy of the Minnesota Republican-led legislature.
Information and references from The Minneapolis Star Tribune, MinnPost.com, Wikiepedia, YouTube, the Lakeville Patch, ESPN.com, The Daily Norseman, and Sports Illustrated contributed to the content of this article.