Nearly a month ago, it appeared that the construction of a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota was a question of when and not if. Now, things are suddenly looking more than a little iffy.
Of all the realistic options for the location of a new stadium, the team’s last choice entails a demolition and reconstruction of the Metrodome. But as the Minnesota Legislature convenes for its 2012 regular session, that’s the option Governor Mark Dayton plans to propose.
“We were told by the governor’s office that the Linden Avenue site is not viable at least in the short run,” Vikings vice president of government affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Vikings ownership is extremely frustrated with the situation.”
The bigger question is whether the Vikings will do anything other than huff or puff about the plan to simply blow their current house down and build a new venue there, relegating the team to multiple seasons at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium in the interim. During an appearance last week on PFT Live, Bagley made it clear that the Vikings aren’t doing anything to exercise whatever leverage they may have.
The team currently has no lease to play at the Metrodome or anywhere else. But the team needs to have a plan for playing its games somewhere in 2012. And if the Vikings plan to move, they must inform the league of the intention to do so by February 15.
But Bagley said last week that the team was not engaged in discussions with other cities regarding a possible move. Thus, barring a sudden change that would entail the negotiation of a comprehensive plan by February 15 for playing games in a new location by August 2012 (or a change in league rules that would give the Vikings more time to get their ducks in a row), the Vikings have no juice. The fact that Governor Mark Dayton is proposing a new stadium in the last local place the team wants it shows that the powers-that-be know the Vikings, at least for now, are going nowhere.
At some point, the Vikings need to quit being so deferential to the folks in Minnesota and start talking about alternatives, instead of generally making vague, periodic references to a possible relocation that, by all appearances, the franchise has no interest in undertaking. To get the attention of the people and the politicians in Minnesota, the Vikings need to make them think that the team could leave.
Right now, no one believes that would happen. Until they do, no one in Minnesota is going to give the Vikings what they want.