Minnesota governor says Vikings to L.A. would be 'travesty'

The stadium bill introduced in both houses of the state Capitol in Minnesota faces a third-and-long to get through in this legislative session.

The Minnesota Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season, and owner Zygi Wilf has maintained he’s not interested in signing an extension unless he has a deal for a new stadium signed, sealed and delivered.

But the Vikings have yet to partner up with a local government to choose a site for a new stadium, and Wilf appears incapable of being the kind of schmoozer and wheeler and dealer to get out and make a deal happen.

So, what’s going to happen? Well, at some point the Vikings will likely put the ultimate threat out there: We’re outta here unless we get a new stadium. That probably won’t come until this time next year, but you never know. If someone can and will build a stadium for them in Los Angeles, there’s already precedent for a sports franchise bolting Minneapolis for L.A. The team has done pretty well for itself since getting there.

"I certainly would hate to see the Los Angeles Vikings along with the Los Angeles Lakers,” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton told Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It would just be a travesty. It's also what makes us a big-league city. You and I can go back to when the Metrodome was built, that was controversial. (But) here you have had, for that public investment ... two World Series; one Super Bowl; all the athletics, college, high school and amateur; and rollerblading, Rolling Stone concerts and monster truck matches; and all the other uses of that major downtown facility. (It's) been a phenomenal economic return.”

Rollerblading? Monster truck matches? Nothing will get the public behind a new stadium initiative like those uses for a new stadium. But Dayton calls the bill that was introduced “a good start, a necessary beginning.”

"I think once they crunch the numbers, you know the cost of the different possible stadiums and locations, we'll have a better idea of which ones fit the economic picture or not,” Dayton said. “I think it's possible; I haven't crunched the numbers. But to put together a deal where, basically, in addition to the Vikings contribution, you have the bonds that are issued that are paid off by the users of the stadium, a surcharge on the tickets, on the luxury suites, on the beverages and then souvenirs; then you have the naming rights; then you add in what they did in Phoenix, where they had a surcharge on the hotels and on the rental cars."

"There's a way we could have people outside the state of Minnesota pay off a portion of the bonds for the stadium. I think we can structure a deal in such a way that there's little or no cost in terms of any kind of sales tax or whatever. That ought to be our goal: no general fund money. Paid off by the users of the stadium, people who benefit from the stadium."

As you can tell from the rambling Dayton, there are a lot of ideas in Minnesota. But the idea process should have been moved along over the last five years when the state knew the lease was coming to an end. The state is waiting until the final hour to move on this issue and the Vikings are more or less standing idly by watching.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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