Maybe this snowy weather makes some of us wish were in L.A., but I'd rather the Vikings not be there. Right now, though, Vikings fans have to take seriously the team's threats to relocate if a stadium deal doesn't get done during the 2011 Minnesota legislative session.
As Star-Tribune Vikings reporter Judd Zulgad wrote on his blog less than an hour ago, Vikings vice president of public affairs Lester Bagley confirmed that the team has been approached by the two main groups looking to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles -- the group led by Ed Roski, and the group led by Ted Leiweke.
Bagley revealed the information in a chat session on the Vikings website today. The most interesting point that I noticed: Bagley said Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf toured the L.A. area last year when an NFL owners meeting took place in southern Cali.
Bagley and the Wilfs still say their main priority is to get a deal done in Minnesota.
"Clearly, the Vikings stadium issue is being followed nationally and it's no secret that we're down to the last year on our lease. We've told those groups that we are focused on resolving the issue in Minnesota. We feel solid momentum and feel we're well-positioned with the new legislature and governor. Instead of spending energy speculating on other markets, let's keep the focus on building a world-class facility for the community and the State of Minnesota."
So, the question now becomes, how much of this Vikes-to-L.A. talk is serious and how much of it is the Wilfs and Bagley just blowing smoke to put more pressure on the legislature? Some people in Minnesota say "let 'em go to L.A., we don't need 'em." Some say, "do whatever it takes to keep 'em here."
It's no secret which side I fall on, though, ultimately, I fail to understand why the Vikings and the University of Minnesota couldn't have found an acceptable solution for a joint stadium. To me, that idea needs to be revisited, even though the Vikings say that's not an option. I know, Zygi wants a mega-complex, including a stadium and bar/restaurant district for blocks around a new stadium. But, why not try to work out an option for the expansion of TCF, along with a deal for Zygi to make money off concessions, parking, etc.?
In the long run, he still makes his money (plus saves whatever he was going to put toward the cost of a new stadium), the Vikes have a beautiful facility to play in, and the fans are happy.
Ultimately, though, it's gonna be left up to the legislature, who will probably find a way to keep the Vikings here. But if it's not worked out in the next legislative session, those threats from the Wilfs will become reality.
-- Jason Feldman