With the Minnesota Legislature officially signing off over a week ago on a new stadium for the Vikings and the Minneapolis City Council less than a week from applying (or not) its official approval to the project, Governor Mark Dayton recently explained his support for the effort in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio.
Asked whether the citizens of Minnesota got the best deal possible, Dayton offered up a lengthy, but informative, reply.
“I believe it’s the best deal available under the circumstances,” Dayton said. “I’m not one to defend the economics of professional sports. It’s a world unto itself. Any deal you make in that world doesn’t make sense from the way the rest of us look at it. That’s just a given.
“The bottom line was: do we want to create several thousand jobs by building this new facility? Do we want to keep the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota? Do we want an NFL franchise here in our state? We accomplished all that. We’re going to have a chance to build something that I think Minnesotans can be very proud of. It’s going to distinguish the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota for decades to come.
“It can be used 355 days a year when the Vikings aren’t playing in it as the people’s stadium, for all sorts of other uses that will enhance the quality of life in our state. Time will tell whether we get a deal or not, I think it’s going to be a good deal when we look back with the perspective of time.”
Dayton’s point is a valid one. Regardless of whether it’s “right” or “wrong” or “competition” or “extortion,” the presence of 32 NFL teams in a country with more than 30 metropolitan areas that want to host one means that the metropolitan areas that currently host an NFL team may, from time to time, have to take steps to keep the NFL team from moving to one of the metropolitan areas that don’t.
Especially when there are now a couple of metropolitan areas outside of the country that may be interested in hosting an NFL team, too.
And to the extent there’s any confusion as to whether the Vikings and the NFL would have gone to one of the other metropolitan areas, Dayton was unequivocal as to the choice the Vikings faced.
“[W]hat the Vikings and the NFL impressed upon us, is that we can’t do it both ways,” Dayton said. “We can’t not do a new stadium. We can’t just keep the team here on that basis. It’s either do we want a new stadium? Do we want the thousands of jobs it will create? Do we want to keep the Vikings here and move forward? Or do we want to just say goodbye? The majority of the Legislature, and I think the majority of the people of Minnesota, were in favor of continuing.”
So while some may have real — and legitimate — problems with taxpayer money being used to make a rich man even richer, sometimes those concerns need to be set aside, or else the NFL franchise may step aside.