After years of tiptoeing through the tulips in the Twin Cities, the Vikings and the NFL have brought out the wrecking ball.
A day after Vikings V.P. of stadium wrangling Lester Bagley responded to Governor Mark Dayton’s warning that a deal to build a new venue must be finalized next year by saying “there is no next year,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Dayton that a failure to finalize a stadium bill in the current (and soon to be ending) legislative session will lead to “serious consequences.”
So what are the serious consequences? “I don’t know if that means a sale. I don’t know if that means a move. You have a very dejected ownership,” NFL executive vice president, NFL Ventures and Business Operations Eric Grubman told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Per the Pioneer Press, another call will occur on Thursday, involving Dayton, Goodell, and Steelers owner Art Rooney II, who chairs the league’s stadium committee.
The about-face by the Vikings and the NFL, which we advocated on Tuesday after the bill died in a House committee on Monday night, is nevertheless jarring. After years of pussyfooting, the Vikings are suddenly stomping their feet — and threatening to use them to walk away from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Though it could backfire on the team and the league, the time for half measures has ended. Previously, the passive approach to the situation caused many to think that the Vikings would never leave, and that owner Zygi Wilf would continue to kick more and more money into the private-public financing formula until the politicians conclude that Wilf has reached his limit.
Clearly, he now has.
And so the politicians and the populace are getting a proper wake-up call. And the Vikings and the NFL are ready to hold accountable those who are holding up progress by trying to hide within a convoluted legislative process.
“Who’s holding this up?” Grubman said. “Who doesn’t want this to be voted on? Stand up and be counted.”
It’s a great point. The naysayers currently are operating largely in shadows, confident that they’ll eventually be able to blame someone else once for the fact that the Vikings have become the third major-league team to leave Minnesota.
The Vikings may indeed leave anyway, but this eleventh-hour decision to abandon the “Minnesota Nice” approach will make it much easier to spot the folks who would otherwise prefer to derail the effort without being outed.