Through My Eyes, by Ron Edwards—Mayor Rybak, Mpls officials hear private Vikings stadium pitch in Portland, Oregon

When the general manager of the Monaco Hotel in Portland, Oregon received reservation requests from Minneapolis for 90 guests for October 2-4, he may have thought a professional team was coming. Instead, it was the Select 90, the brain trust of Minneapolis’ professional urban design community, led by Mayor R.T. Rybak.


They were there to see firsthand Portland’s approach to city planning in general and transportation in particular. They were joined by Les Bagby, who heads the Minnesota Vikings stadium initiative. He hosted a dinner and presentation for the Select 90 at Widmer Brewery on Portland’s East Side.


I understand the interest by Minneapolis planners in Portland’s regional master plan. The multiple mode transportation development part includes transit centers, stops for light rail, street cars, trolleys, aerial tram and busses, as well as an extensive bike lane system and extensive parks and open space system with walking paths based on Portland’s Pedestrian Master Plan.


Portland engages rather than neglects the city’s two downtown cores, one on each side of the Willamette River that bisects the city. Portland has also successfully thinned out Blacks from its two downtown cores.


What I don’t understand is this: What message to the Select 90 did the Vikings deliver in Portland that couldn’t be delivered in Minneapolis?


I alerted my publisher, who is in Portland, about the Select 90 being in town and asked him to check it out. He was admitted to the beer tasting and dinner hosted by the Vikings, which gave him a chance to renew old acquaintances with Mayor Rybak and the Northwest Area Foundation’s Gary Cunningham.


He asked both of them why Minneapolis doesn’t hold a conference on the Planning Initiative Suggestions I have proposed. My planning approach begins with education and jobs, with inclusion and equal access and equal opportunity. He also had a chance to briefly compare stadium funding notes with Les Bagley.


When my publisher was later told by organizers that he could not stay for Les’ presentation, he let Les know he wished he could have heard him speak. Les said, “I’ll give you my presentation summary,” and then, as he pounded his fist into his hand, he repeated, “Build the stadium, build the stadium, build the stadium.”


What was the Vikings’ message delivered to the Select 90 that it had to be private? Was this a last-ditch stand to get a plan for building a Vikings stadium or else it’s off to Los Angeles?


My message since 2002 (see Chapter 15 of my 2002 book, The Minneapolis Story, and follow-up columns, TV and radio shows) has warned of “The Plan” to force the Vikings out. I list on the “Solutions” section of my website the roll call of those in Minneapolis who want the team to leave and why. So far, no one has refuted anyone or anything on that roll call.


Interestingly, before I met my publisher, he put on his personal website in 2000 what he sent to the governor, legislators and others regarding how to finance a Vikings stadium without new taxes, but no one in the city or state or corporations ever asked him for more. The Vikings told him in 2000 that they didn’t need it as they had a deal with the legislature to provide the funds.


Does this mean that the move-not-move question has reached the 11th hour point of no return, such that the Vikings had to go to the extreme of going to Portland, Oregon to deliver a message to make their point to the significant movers and shakers of our metropolitan area?


Remember the quick and decisive departure of NFL teams from Baltimore to Indianapolis and from L.A. to St. Louis? It’s happened before. It will happen again.


Will our beloved Minnesota Vikings be next, relocating to Los Angeles or another city? It would be better for Minnesotans to be told in an honest manner what was talked about and what decisions may have been proposed in that closed meeting in Portland about the future of our great franchise.


By gosh, you’d think the Select 90, traveling on taxpayers’ dollars, would realize they owe an explanation to the taxpayers and hold open meetings. The manager of the Monaco was partially correct — the guests were professional planners and politicians, not athletes.


Minneapolis needs to know what was discussed and advocated for professional football in Minnesota and for widening gentrification.


Stay tuned.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at  Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneap

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