A Vikings stadium bill will be formally introduced in the Minnesota state legislature some time next week. A brief outline of that bill has been released to the world, giving us a glimpse of what lawmakers have in mind for a potential new Vikings home.
To briefly summarize the summary: Minnesota lawmakers want the new stadium to have a roof. And they want the Vikings to pay for 1/3 of the construction (or, in their fancy money-language, $1 for every $2 kicked in by the state and whatever local government ends up landing the venue). And there are going to need to be a lot of new taxes to pay for it, including a tax on sports memorabilia and a pro football player income tax surcharge, whatever the hell that is.
Also, naming rights will be sold. So get ready for Target Stadium.
The summary proposes the creation of a Minnesota Stadium Authority which will be responsible for choosing a site and running the new facility. If sufficient construction funds are raised but the Vikings fail to sign a lease, the funds will go toward a future stadium and Metrodome upkeep. The summary also states, “The lease is not signed and construction does not start if the current labor conflict is not resolved.”
So what does this all mean to the average fan? I guess it means, if you live in Minnesota, you’re going to be paying a little more for that signed Chuck Foreman card. And there will be a new scratch-off game, perhaps with more ads starring John Randle as a man who can jump-start cars with his biceps (fingers crossed).
The really important thing here, obviously, is the roof issue. As far as I know the Vikings have still not budged in their desire to have an open-air stadium. The language of the summary makes it clear that lawmakers are not interested in anything but a stadium with a roof. The Vikings have said they will pony up 1/3 of the cost for an unroofed stadium and not a penny more. The state however is making it clear that they expect the Vikings to cough up 1/3 of the cost of whatever stadium they decide to build.
Obviously, this is only a summary of the initial bill, and a lot could change. By the time lawmakers are done batting this around, the stadium could have water slides shooting out the side of it, and a roof that’s lifted off by balloons on sunny days.
I’m guessing most fans won’t care what the stadium is named, what it looks like, where it is or how it’s paid for as long as the team playing inside it doesn’t stink. Unfortunately, fans don’t decide stuff. Politicians and rich owners do. So look for a long, arduous, sometimes contentious, almost certainly tedious battle to ensue.
And maybe one day there will even be football again.