NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney emerged from a meeting with state leaders this morning without a breakthrough in the battle over a Vikings stadium.
“After many, many years, the time has come to pass the legislation and move forward,” Goodell said. “We expect and hope that after today’s meeting, there is a general commitment to be able to do that in this session, and that will assure the Vikings will be here for a very long time, which is our objective.”
Goodell said there were no ultimatums. “There were no implied threats or any threats at all. What we talked about was the importance of creating a solution here,” said Goodell. “I think the legislative leaders and the governor understand the time is now.”
It’s unclear if any of the leaders in the meeting hadn’t heard or didn’t believe that message from the Vikings and the NFL before.
The real question is what’s going to happen in the Minnesota House, where the stadium bill failed to clear a committee on Monday. GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers declined to commit to bringing the issue to a vote on the floor, which is what the team and League have been demanding.
“I think we’ll have that answer for you in the next couple of days, I think. Right now, I think it’s a little too early. Essentially, the bill is dead. It died in Gov Ops. But there’s creative ways around here to make sure things do move,” said Zellers. “So, it’s alive in the Senate, and that may be the best first step.”
Gov. Mark Dayton had what might be the single nugget of news from the meeting. He said the NFL says it has started working its way down its relocation checklist.
“They said again that they’d like to have a team in Los Angeles,” Dayton said. “They’d like to have it be not the Vikings. There are other franchises, that are likely, possible to go. There are other places beyond Los Angeles, he didn’t elaborate, that are interested in a team. So whether the Vikings are going to get sold, or somebody’s going to move them, or they’re going to get moved, they didn’t address that.”
There were reports yesterday that the League might tell Minnesota that it was waiving its Feb. 15 relocation deadline. That could potentially put the debate into sudden-death overtime by letting the Vikings announce a move after this year’s deadline. But Goodell denied that the League had suggested any changes to the relocation policy in today’s meeting.
The Senate is scheduled to take up its three Vikings stadium bills 30 minutes after its session today, which will be the first test of whether the NFL visit may have moved the ball at all at the Capitol.