Are the Minnesota Vikings the Modern-Day Brooklyn Dodgers?

Tom Shefchik@ShefonomicsContributor IApril 9, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17:  Sidney Rice #18 of the Minnesota Vikings is congratulated by running back Adrian Peterson #28 for scoring a 45 yard touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Name this team: They have regularly been in contention throughout their history, but just can't get over the hump and win a world championship. They have a strong core of loyal fans dating back generations. They play in a stadium that is decades old and does not meet the team's current needs.

They have an owner who has submitted proposals for stadiums to stay in their current market. These proposals have run into political roadblocks, and there have been rumblings that the team may move to Los Angeles, a huge market pining for an established team. So who is this team?

Trick question; the answer is two teams: The 2010 Minnesota Vikings and the 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Dodgers won the NL pennant 10 times as of 1954. Despite their success, they had not won a World Series in franchise history.

The Vikings have made eight conference championship games and advanced to the Super Bowl four times. They technically won the 1969 NFL Championship, but lost in the pre-merger Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving them without a world championship in their history.

The Dodgers' franchise was formed in 1883 in Brooklyn, although they played under many different nicknames before settling on the Dodgers in the 1930s. Ebbets Field opened in 1913 as one of the premier ballparks of its time.

The Vikings were founded in Minnesota in 1961. After playing in Metropolitan Stadium from their founding, they moved into the Metrodome in 1982. Multipurpose stadiums were considered the clear choice at the time, and also allowed Minneapolis to host major events, such as the Super Bowl and the Final Four.

After World War II, many of the Dodgers' diehard fans moved out of the borough and into the neighboring suburbs on Long Island. During most of their history, their fans walked to the park or took the trolley. It was now necessary for them to drive, but the park only had 700 parking spots.

With no room to expand, it was time to explore other options. Owner Walter O'Malley planned on opening the first-ever domed stadium in Brooklyn. When he presented his idea to city planners and the most powerful man in New York Robert Moses, the plan was shot down. Moses wanted the Dodgers to move to nearby Queens and open a park at the former World's Fair site. O'Malley balked, and the two men found themselves at a standstill.

The Vikings have decided the Metrodome no longer earns enough money or can compete with the stadiums of their competitors. The Metrodome's other tenants, the Twins and Gophers, decided the same and after much effort, were able to get beautiful new stadiums built. After multiple proposals, the Vikings have not yet been able to get a stadium deal approved.

In 1955, the Bums from Brooklyn finally broke through, beating those Yankees in seven games in the World Series. The euphoria in Brooklyn would be short-lived. O'Malley, refusing to move his club to Queens and failing to get his dome built in Brooklyn, accepted an offer from Los Angeles and moved the team out west.

The New York Giants joined the Big Apple exodus, leaving for San Francisco the same year. Moses eventually got his way, when the New York Mets were formed in 1962. After two years of playing at the Polo Grounds, they moved to brand-new Shea Stadium in Queens on the World's Fair site.

Comparing the Dodgers and Vikings isn't perfect, but the Vikings, their fans, and state government would be served well to take heed of the Dodgers' past.

This by no means suggests bankrupting the state to give the Vikings a new stadium in a tough economy. However, the Vikings have been part of the fabric of the state for half a century. The new stadium would bring in new temporary jobs and more long-term revenue. Also, the state has absolutely zero chance of luring in another Super Bowl or Final Four without replacing the Metrodome with a modern, all-weather facility.

The club's owners, the Wilf family, have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get a deal done. Both sides need to come together to find a reasonable plan that benefits the state and the team and keeps the Vikings where they belong.

It would be a shame for history to repeat itself.


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