Among the many things that the new governor, Mark Dayton, has on his agenda is the decision to support a new football stadium. His decision on this matter could turn out to become one of the (if not simply the) defining decisions of his early tenure.
The decision is important first because of its timing. It comes at a time when the state has hanging over its head the largest debt that any governor has inherited in modern times (over $6.2 billions). Further, Gov. Dayton is committed to providing considerable state aid to education, which is suffering throughout the state.
And, although it is not being stated out loud, there is a whispered belief that if adequate stadium facilities are not provided for the team before its option runs out this year, owner Zygmunt (Zygi) Wilf and company will move the team to a more accommodating city. (Los Angeles, for example, is chomping at the bit for an NFL team to occupy its stadium.)
The stadium issue also plays into a wide-open political scenario. The Republican Party, which now controls the state legislature for the first time in more than 20 years, is committed to cutting state expenditures. That was a factor in their gaining control of the legislature.
Therefore, they may not be in too much of a hurry to play any significant role in coming up with the dough for a billion-dollar stadium. It would leave egg on their faces and probably consequences for the 2012 election.
There also might be trouble with the team’s owner, Zygi Wilf. Although he seems to indicate a desire to remain here, recently he has been very vocal about an outdoor stadium.
Key members of the legislature are equally determined regarding a roofed facility of some kind. One made this remark: “It’s foolish to drop that much dough in a facility that can only be used eight times a year [Vikings’ home-game schedule].”
Several suburban locations have been listed as possible stadium sites, but the supporting revenue doesn’t seem to accompany the interest. Yet, we keep hearing that when the deal goes down, a way will be found to gain for the state a brand-new football stadium capable of seating in excess of 75,000 patrons.
Matthew Little welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.