By Travis Stahl
This is supposed to be the down time of the National Football League calendar year. The draft is over, free agency is done and teams are just completing rookie orientations. Yet for people that follow the NFL closely, this week was a pretty momentous occasion that nearly caused a ripple that would have produced tidal waves throughout the rest of the league. In case you missed it, Minnesota almost lost the Vikings. To repeat that last sentence, the Vikings had their bags packed, the car loaded and one foot out the front door on the way to Los Angeles before tragedy was averted.
The Vikings have been fighting back and forth with Minnesota lawmakers about a new downtown stadium. The Vikings needed a new home as the old Metrodome was about as warm and inviting as an igloo. Which, in Minnesota might not be too bad, but when you’re an operating NFL franchise in need of generating revenue, igloos aren’t too fancy. The problem then you might ask? Minnesota lawmakers did not want any part of a financing plan to help the Vikings build a new stadium.
You see, those crazy state representatives and state senators from the great state of Minnesota didn’t feel ethically right asking their tax payers to help foot the bill for a new stadium while the state is struggling economically. The Vikings response was simple; we’ll take our ball and go play somewhere else. Here is where logic comes in to the argument. Let’s hypothetically say whoever owns the McDonald’s in Columbia City went to the town council and stated that unless the city paid for him to build a new restaurant in the town he would move his franchise elsewhere. Would the city pay? Of course not, he can pay for that out of his own pocket.
Here is where it becomes tricky. Sports teams are considered a “public interest.” Because there are so many people who are affected by the Vikings being in Minnesota it’s as if they belong to the people. That means the Vikings, and for that matter the NFL, can hold the lawmakers feet to the fire on this one. Essentially Roger Goodell flew to Minnesota and said look fellas, build the stadium or the Vikings are going to pull a Baltimore Colts on you and head to L.A. Lawmakers obviously did not want to see the team flee the city and a bill was passed to “help” the Vikings construct a new stadium.
And the crisis was averted that easily. All the troops were placed on “stand down” and the silo doors were closed.
Can you even imagine a world in which the Vikings did not exist in Minnesota? This is a team rich in history with four Super Bowl appearances and countless Hall of Famers. Fans would no longer have the NFC Norris division with rivalries against the Packers and Bears. Sure, they would still play those teams but there’s something creepy we would have felt about hearing “today, live from Los Angeles, it’s the Bears against the Vikings.” Would the team have still worn those god-awful purple uniforms? You know the ones that almost give you a head-ache just from looking at them? Would the team still have retained its name like the Lakers did when they moved from Minnesota? Luckily we don’t have to answer those questions.
But, those questions might be back on the table next year. Listen up city of Jacksonville, whatever crazy new owner Shad Khan wants, you better give it to him. There is going to be a new in Los Angeles, that’s a fact. Jaguar fans need to decide this season if that team in L.A. is going to be their team or another one but if Jags fans don’t start putting butts in seats, the team is going to split. Khan is a wild card and even though he says he wants to keep the team in Florida, this near-Vikings fiasco has opened some new doors for him. Have you seen Khan, I’m pretty sure he was one of the guys fighting Indiana Jones when he was looking for the Lost Ark. You know what you can say for Khan, he wants to win and he wants to win where fans will love his team and pack the stadium. If those fans are in Jacksonville, so be it, if not its viva Los Angeles.
The Vikings leaving Minnesota would have been a devastating blow for the state. Yes, tax payers will have to pony up to keep the team in town. If you want to keep looking at those stupid purple jerseys though Vikings fans then you have to pay-up.