OTHER VIEW: Vikings stadium deal is far from doneDespite the breathlessly optimistic tone of this week’s headlines, a new Minnesota Vikings stadium is not a done deal. Not close.
By: Editorial board, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
Despite the breathlessly optimistic tone of this week’s headlines, a new Minnesota Vikings stadium is not a done deal. Not close.
The forces at work in favor of a new facility are formidable. But so are the forces aligned against building a $1 billion complex, which might be funded in part by public money.
Every poll of Minnesotans finds resistance to using even a dime of public money to fund a stadium project. At the same time, Minnesotans overwhelmingly say it’s either important or somewhat important to keep the team in Minnesota. It appears, therefore, that Minnesotans love the team, but not enough to pony up tax dollars to prevent the Vikes from bolting to another state.
The threat of leaving the Twin Cities for some other NFL franchise-hungry city is the hammer the Vikings organization holds over Minnesota. There is no doubt owners Mark and Zygi Wilf could find a new home for the team, although they’ve said again and again they have no intention of leaving Minnesota. But even the best of intentions can fall by the wayside if an owner concludes support for the team — that is, public financial support of some kind — is not enough.
That being said, at this point, the Vikings organization has done everything right, including pledging 39 percent of the overall cost of the project, and favoring a potentially spectacular location in the northern suburbs.
That’s about where the stadium debate rests now. The two sites under serious consideration: an old munitions plant tract in Arden Hills off interstate highways 35W and 694; and the downtown location now occupied by the aging (sometimes collapsing) Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which is the team’s current home. So in addition to a Legislature reluctant to even talk about public money for a new stadium and sentiment among most Minnesotans that no public money should be used, possible vigorous competition between the two potential sites further complicates the debate.
None of the apparent roadblocks to a new stadium is insurmountable. The immediate success of the beautiful new Twins ballpark serves as an example of what can be accomplished. Maybe a modified version of the Twins financial package can be the model for the Vikings.
But this much is beyond maybe: The Vikings franchise is a valuable property. If Minnesota, the team owners and metro governments can’t agree on a formula to fund a new stadium, rest assured some other city, some other state will. Which leaves just one question: What will it take for the Wilf family and the Vikings to bid the Twin Cities goodbye?
The Forum, like The Daily Republic, is owned by Forum Communications Co. of Fargo, N.D.