With the Minnesota Vikings generating not much interest this season via their on-field efforts, the off-field push for a new stadium has provided plenty of intrigue.
The latest chapter comes courtesy of owner Zygi Wilf, who while trying to pry some $700 million from public coffers guarded by a reluctant pack of politicians has purchased a $19 million co-op on Park Avenue, in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
According to Jim Ragsdale of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the acquisition came to light on the same day that Vikings officials were participating in a Senate Taxes Committee hearing regarding the stadium funding drive.
The prior owners of the co-op reportedly were victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. And that’s perhaps fitting, since plenty of Minnesotans believe that they’re becoming the victims of a similar pyramid scam, in which money from the folks at the bottom rolls up to the benefit of someone who already has plenty of it.
While we (or at least I) continue to believe that very good reasons exist for the contribution of public funds to the construction of a venue that provides a wide range of benefits to the local populace, we (or at least I) believe that the multimillionaires who would profit from such arrangements should demonstrate a little more discretion when making big-ticket purchases while the effort is still pending.
Said the Vikings regarding the situation: “That’s a personal family issue that is not related to the Minnesota Vikings.”
That apples-and-oranges dismissal of the potential P.R. nightmare brings to mind one of my favorite jokes from David Letterman. Taking his late-night NBC show to Las Vegas for a full week in the 1980s, Letterman said during a monologue that he was approached on the street by a man who asked for cash because his wife needs an operation. Said Letterman to the man, “How do I know you’re not going to use this money for gambling?”
The man responded, “Oh, I’ve got gambling money.”
Regardless of the impact that this purchase has on the team’s ability to get a new stadium built in Minnesota, it’s safe to say that Wilf has no choice but to pay 34 cents on the dollar for any of the remaining non-premium tickets for Sunday’s home game against the Broncos. The game needs to be televised locally, and Wilf needs to do something that will persuade the folks whom he wants to be generous with their money that he is capable of being generous with his.