So, guess what...the NFL lockout crisis has been over for a month, and the Minnesota State Government passed a deal that will keep it functioning for another year or so. Guess what it is time for? Minnesota Viking stadium saber-rattling, that's what! The other way of framing that is "Lester Bagley Being a Jerk and ProFootballTalk Enabling Him".
Here we go!
Lester Bagley sat down with ESPN 1500's Judd Zuglad, and while briefly admitting that all of the history behind the Viking's stadium issues (not mentioning last year's 6-10 record, with a 40 year old QB who was paid somewhere around $20 million) still said flatly, "There is growing concern within our ownership, there is no doubt, about where this is headed and the fact that every year, we get to the end of the session and there's a different reason why (it didn't get done)."
The main reason, of course, is that the Vikings are asking for upwards of 60% public funding. The article, somewhat misleadingly, talks about the $300 million that the State of Minnesota would kick in, without mentioning that the various avenues that the State has attempted to raise that money have been anything from silly to flat out unconstitutional.
I searched that article for the word "Ramsey" as in "Ramsey County", which is expected to raise another $300 million, and it doesn't show up once. But nevermind all that stuff! Ramsey County can't wait to put that stadium in the middle of nowhere. Or at least, two of its commissioners can't wait. The rest of Ramsey County (St. Paul) isn't so sure, and is looking for funding that doesn't screw constituents. Which the Vikings don't care about at all.
And let's be clear--one of the great aspects of the Metrodome was that despite the rather rudimentary Public Transportation of the Twin Cities, it was reachable by walking, by bus and by train. The new site? Not available by bus or train or by walking. So, that's a great deal for fans who live in the exact neighborhood of the new stadium, and are willing to pay parking fees, and for absolutely no one else.
But here's my favorite part. Lester Bagley says, "But now we're down to the end of the lease, and if we don't get it done this fall, we get to February (and) we will be the only NFL team without a lease," Bagley said. "The only one. There's already been knocks on the door about, 'Hey, we want to talk to you guys when your lease is up."
And Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk says, "Though no threats have been made, the threat doesn’t need to be articulated to be real."
NO THREAT? Really, Mike Florio? Can you read? Because what Lester Bagley just did there was a damn threat, straight out of the Used Car Lot. "A really nice couple just kicked the tires of this here franchise, and they really want to move it to California. Are you sure you don't have $600 Million? Because they do," is exactly what Lester Bagley just said.
But you know what? I think it is bullhockey. The threat of moving to LA is only scary if it makes sense, and it only makes sense if the Vikings seem primed to move. But based on everything Bagley said, they are not primed to move--they are just using this moment to push for a new stadium here. If they were going to move to LA, why bother with the threats and nonsense? Florio may be sure that the Vikings are moving to LA if they don't get a deal, but the more they posture and threaten, the more I'm sure they are not.
But while we are at it, can we break down another Lester Bagley quote? From the same interview: "[The Vikings] went and got a great site and a great local partner, a significant local contribution, and they put the third-largest private stadium contribution on the table after the Jets-Giants stadium and after the Cowboys. What the Wilfs have offered -- $400-plus million up front and $20 million a year (in Arden Hills) -- is the third-largest private offer in NFL history.""
Let me break that down--the great site is a SuperFund Site, and there is still disagreement about how much clean up will be needed, and who will pay for it. So, not a "great" site, really. "The significant local contribution" is still up for debate, and I'll tell you what, as a Ramsey County Taxpayer, if I have a choice between my taxes going to schools or a Vikings stadium, I'll take schools, thank you. As for the third largest private offer in NFL history, that's really convenient, because it turns out that Stadium Price Inflation in a real thing. FedEx Field, home of the Drunken Savages, cost under $350 million in 2011 dollars, and was paid exclusively by private dollars. So, the Vikings could take their $400 million, and build a new FedEx Field, but they don't want to. They want to build a Jerry Jones North, One Billion Dollar Monster, and they want a State and County dealing with poverty, joblessness and understocked food shelves to foot the bill. And let's remember what Jerry Jones did to make his stadium happen.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but: Screw You, Minnesota Vikings. Build Your Own Damn Home.