With each passing day, that celebratory press conference in Ramsey County regarding the deal to place the Vikings’ new stadium in Arden Hills is looking more and more premature and, frankly, foolish. The project still faces many challenges, which now include opposition from the man who has been firmly behind the idea of building a new stadium for the team.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune (where an ever-growing list of names is receiving express credit for Vikings stadium stories), Governor Mark Dayton doesn’t care much for the proposed deal, which would put the stadium at the site of an abandoned ammunition plant.
“I could see why that would be appealing to the Vikings,” Dayton said. “I don’t know why Ramsey County agreed to it.” Dayton reportedly thinks the deal gives too much revenue and control to the Vikings, and it foists onto the state responsibility for improving the roads around the proposed location. He says that $300 million represents the absolute limit of the state’s contribution; thus, if as Dayton believes $240 million will be devoted to improving the nearby roads, it doesn’t leave much to contribute to the stadium itself.
Meanwhile, the Vikings continue to be skeptical of Dayton’s claim that road improvements will be so costly. The team thinks that the real number could be as low as $80 million.
And a new debate is emerging regarding whether Vikings lobbyists had been telling legislators that the team wanted to stay in Minneapolis before picking the Arden Hills location.
At this rate, we think there’s only one issue that really matters: Whether the team will still be known as the Vikings when it moves to Los Angeles, or whether the name will be left behind for a possible expansion or relocated franchise. Given the league’s misadventures in Minnesota courts, however, we’ve got a feeling that, if the current franchise leaves, there won’t be a replacement. Ever.
Chew on that one, Governor Dayton and all other Minnesota politicians, as you plan your next move.