Arden Hills Vikings Best Option Says Tom Powers
Now, you and I may see open space, but Zygi Wilf and the entire Wilf family see not only a shiny new stadium but also hotels, specialty shops and roller coasters. Maybe even a discothèque. A developer by trade, Mr. Wilf no doubt felt a tingle run up his leg when he first saw this vast expanse of developable land.
It’s difficult to predict whether the Vikings will get a new facility any time soon. This is going to be a tough sell. But if they do come to an agreement on one, it’s difficult to imagine a better location. Just so long as they make sure there are no stray bullets lying around the old munitions site. Bullets and drunken football fans are not a good mix.
My guess is that Vikings ownership already has decided on the Arden Hills site. Even though there will be extra costs involved in building roads, the Vikings should be able to recoup those. No doubt they are going to be given a vast parcel of acreage to develop at their discretion. They aren’t going to get any land in downtown Minneapolis if the city rebuilds on the Metrodome site.
Furthermore, there is plenty of room for tailgating in Arden Hills, and the team could play at the Dome while the new place is built. But the way this dance ritual works is that the Vikings have to dangle the possibility of playing in Minneapolis one more time, just to make sure they wring every last drop out of the Arden Hills people.
It’s just business. Remember, the Twins pretty much had decided on the site for their new ballpark, Target Field, when they made sure to engage St. Paul one final time. Hey, maybe a ballpark would look great right across from the Xcel Energy Center! In reality, that was just a ploy to make sure Hennepin County was sufficiently moti-vated.
The Arden Hills site isn’t nearly as far from the southern suburbs as I thought. It was a mere 30-minute drive from my primary residence, although a good seven hours by plane from my chalet in the south of France and 13 hours from my condo in the Dubai Towers.
But whether it all comes to fruition is questionable. As soon as the team locks onto a site, the battle lines will form. Headline-grabbing politicians will try to manipulate people into a frenzy of righteous indignation. Stadium proponents will try to scare those same folks into believing the team quickly will skip town without a new facility.
From what I can tell, there are sound business reasons why the Vikings need a new facility. But that’s just it: They are business reasons.
At the end of the day, there was sufficient support for a Twins ballpark because Minnesotans wanted to experience outdoor baseball. It was something real and tangible. It represented a connection with the past as well as something new and exciting.
There was sufficient support for the Xcel Energy Center because people wanted to see NHL hockey. It couldn’t have been simpler. Build an arena and get a hockey team.
But if you ask folks why they want a new Vikings stadium, you will hear: Because they’ll move if they don’t get one. And that’s more of a threat than a motivation. In essence, the vast major-ity of stadium supporters are on board simply because they want the team to stay put.
Sure, the Dome could use more toilets and better food, but there really is no “entertainment experience” motivation for a new venue, even though Zygi keeps talking about it. There’s no doubt that if the Vikings were happy with the Dome, the fans would be, too.
It’s also hard to motivate the general population to swallow some sort of tax by noting ownership isn’t making enough money. So the Vikings have tried to talk around that by saying they need the additional revenue to remain competitive. How so? Well, to pay upfront bonuses.
In reality, those front-loaded contracts are detrimental to a team in the long run. Asking for help in that area is tantamount to seeking an accomplice in wrongdoing. And in the revenue-sharing, salary-capped NFL, that whole premise is hard to wrap one’s mind around.
The truth is that the other owners get seriously ticked off when they see a franchise that they perceive is not carrying its weight. We already know how much Jerry Jones hates sharing the revenue his Dallas Cowboys generate. He said so. Just one weak team is a pain because it means less money for everyone else.
So while the Vikings’ owners won’t be clipping coupons any time in the near future, they no doubt are under tremendous pressure to get Minnesota revenue up to league standards.
That’s a very good, solid business reason. But it’s not exactly an embraceable cause.
MNVikingsBlog.com Analysis: I too agree that Arden Hills would be a fantastic spot to build the Vikings a new home for every Sunday. Unfortunately that’s about all I agree with Powers within this article. I don’t think people only want the new stadium because of the threat of the team leaving. In fact, that’s just a tiny reason I personally wouldn’t want the team to get one. I’m not one for bullying and unfortunately that’s what the Vikings feel is necessary in order to get a deal done. We watched the Target Center get built, the Excel center, and Target field. It’s time for a new Vikings stadium… and not just because the team wants one. The Metrodome doesn’t offer the fans the true atmosphere of a football game. Anyone who has attempted to tailgate in Minneapolis could back that up. Parking is a disaster and we won’t even get into the actual concourse of the Metrodome itself. As mentioned earlier… it’s just time.