The day many people thought would never come appears to have arrived. The stadium bill passed the Senate this afternoon and now the Vikings are a couple of formalities away from having a new home in the city of Minneapolis. You can stop making jokes about moves to Los Angeles because the Vikings aren’t going anywhere.
The process was a long and arduous one featuring much arguing, a ton of grandstanding and a whole lot of hand-wringing by fans concerned about losing their beloved football team. The final deal was not exactly what they Vikings wanted – for starters it requires them to pay $50 million more than they thought they would have to – but at least now they can move out of the decrepit Metrodome and into a sparkling new state-of-the-art facility that will allow them to be competitive with the rest of the NFL in revenue generation.
For the fans, the new stadium – when it opens in 2016 – will mean a much better experience. For the city of Minneapolis it will mean a chance to host a Super Bowl in the near future (if the NFL is true to its word). If the Vikings choose to kick in extra dough for a retractable roof, it will mean an MLS franchise for Minnesota and the chance for young Viking fans to experience outdoor home games just like their fathers and grandfathers enjoyed.
There will of course be controversy about this stadium and the deal that got it made. Some will argue about the morality of using gambling revenue to fund the construction. Others will complain that contributing to the stadium amounts to a subsidy for rich owner Zygi Wilf. And there will be a thousand other small things for people to pick apart from here until the end of time.
But Viking fans don’t care about any of that right now because, pending Minneapolis city council approval and governor Mark Dayton’s signature, the stadium is a done deal. The old much-maligned Metrodome’s days are now officially numbered. And the Vikings are staying in Minnesota where they belong.