No Guarantee For Arden Hills Vikings Stadium – In Legislatures Hands.
Whether you’re in favor of the state helping to fund a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings or against it, take a deep breath. Relax.
The Vikings are not getting a new stadium.
Not yet, at least.
Despite what many Vikings fans on Twitter and Facebook appear (or want) to believe, the awkward pep rally held in Arden Hills on Tuesday afternoon does not guarantee anything, for the Vikings or stadium opponents.
The only guarantee is that, when the Vikings go before the state legislature, they have a city (Arden Hills) and a county (Ramsey) willing to pick up a good chunk of the billion dollar-plus tab for a new retractable-roof playground.
So let’s save for another time (which will come soon enough) the debate about whether or not the state should invest $300 million to help construct another new building for a professional sports team.
Tuesday’s announcement by Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, and Ramsey County commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega, was a good step forward for stadium proponents.
Combined, the Vikings and Ramsey County will put more than $750 million into a stadium on the site of the former Twin Cities Army Ammuniton Plant in Arden Hills, they said. The state’s $300 million contribution would take care of the rest of the cost, they said.
Still, the Vikings and Ramsey County face a third-and-5 at the state legislature. The bill could pass or it could not. There’s no strong sense of what will happen, one way or another, especially with $200 million or more in infrastructure upgrades needed near the stadium site.
If the third-and-5 fails, the Vikings may well just back up and punt. That means a move to Los Angeles, which makes for a longer drive on gameday than the extra 10 miles to Arden Hills that many Twin Cities talk radio callers were whimpering about late Tuesday afternoon.
As for the site itself, it doesn’t take a Toby Gerhart to figure out why the Wilfs are in love with it. It starts and ends with money. The Wilfs could make a lot of it by charging for 21,000 parking spaces, building a team Hall of Fame (I know, I know; they wouldn’t need much land for that) and a Vikings pro shop.
Zygi, never to be mistaken for a superstar motivational speaker, had one phrase drilled into his head Tuesday by his speech writer, or whoever tells him what to say in public forums: “the stadium will provide fans a full game-day experience.”
Wilf, who would be wise to cede control of press conferences to his brother, used the phrase repeatedly — I lost count at about 6,193 — when talking about fans’ ability to tailgate and enjoy a full day of Purple Pride with friends and family.
Fans should like the site because, well, it’s in Minnesota and a new stadium on that site means the Vikings are still in Minnesota. Playing four more seasons in the Metrodome — or one in the Dome and three at TCF Bank Stadium — is palatable, with the thought of Wilf World on the horizon in 2015.
Fans should also like Arden Hills because Arden Hills and Ramsey County wanted the Vikings. Ortega and Bennett convinced the Wilfs that an eyesore of a piece of land could be turned into a complex that would host 65,000 people eight times a year.
But, in reality, Tuesday’s announcement didn’t settle anything. It just turned a second-and-15 into a third-and-5.
MNVikingsBlog.com Analysis: A lot of excitement has been going around the state of Minnesota the last couple days. Unfortunately, the Vikings have a huge hurdle in getting the legislature to approve this bill. It’s no guarantee and public funding in always the issue. If the bill doesn’t pass this year, I expect things to get real ugly with the state and Vikings organization. Let’s avoid it all together and get it done!