Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King wrote a bit about the prospects of a new Vikings stadium in his Monday Morning Quarterback column (a must read for NFL lovers). In it, King downplayed chances of a Vikings stadium getting funded with taxpayer funding this year:
14. Stadium blues in Minnesota. Want to know why the Minnesota Vikings have a tough fight on their hands to get a new stadium built? Politics. And one of the biggest budget deficits in the United States.
For the first time in more than 20 years in Minnesota, the governor, lieutenant governor, 134 state representatives and 67 state senators will all be up for election in the same year, 2010, without a presidential or U.S. Senate election next November. That means the focus of the entire state will be on the state, not divided between Washington and Minnesota. Those 203 politicians are in no mood to foot much of the bill for a new sporting venue.
The state has just overseen the opening this fall of the new 50,000-seat stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and the Twins’ new Target Field will open downtown next April. Combined total of those two projects: $578 million. The state is projecting a $1.2-billion budget deficit next year. Add all those factors together, and you understand how tough it’s going to be for the Vikings to get a new stadium anytime soon.
I don’t think it’ll be in 2010, which will raise the threat level of a franchise shift to Los Angele to orange. When, or if, they do build, I can tell you that people on the football side — players, coaches — aren’t crazy about an open-air stadium. A retractable roof would add about $200 million to the cost; a fixed roof would add about $125,000. It’ll be a homefield edge at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean the locals used to playing inside and sitting inside for the past 28 football seasons want to go back to playing in the elements.
I was at the Vikings facility Thursday, and it was minus-1 with a wind-chill of minus-12 at 11 in the morning. As one player told me, “A whole generation of fans grew up without ever sitting outside to watch the Vikings. What’s it been, 30 years? How are you going to get all those people used to being warm for a game to sit outside when it’s below zero?” Good question. But the Vikings would be happy to get any new stadium, inside or outside.
Here’s a key question: If King can offer this analysis after dropping in to speak to the Vikings, why can’t the media outlets that are going full throttle on this issue?