October 20th, 2011

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#458 – Dick Bernard: The Vikings Stadium

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

If you live in Minnesota or vicinity, and you give even the tiniest bit of attention to news, you will know that THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS NEED A NEW STADIUM (or so they claim). What is more real is that they WANT a Stadium.

MN Gov. Mark Dayton has called for a Special Session of the Legislature before Thanksgiving to decide what obligations will be assumed by Minnesota Taxpayers to build this new facility, wherever it happens to be built. His is a prudent political decision.

Personally, I have no particular interest in the issue. I think the Stadium will be funded, and taxpayers will pay lots of the cost, and I think it will be a very stupid decision, and I will so advise my legislators, but it won’t interfere with my daily life. It’s only a few hundred million, after all. Heckuva deal.

I attended a single Vikings game in my life, back in the early 1970s before sophisticated cameras and large TV screens, and I had arguably the worst seat in the stadium: beyond the end zone, in perhaps the third row up along the third base line at old Met Stadium. I could see the football in the air when it was being passed or kicked. I could discern progress only by cheers, boos and public address system, and by the long sticks showing where on the field the team was.

It was a horrid experience, never to be repeated.

This doesn’t deter the pitchman for the National Football League (NFL) saying yesterday “Great Cities are defined by the great institutions that they support”. This quote was on the front page of yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, above the fold.

Quite obviously he was talking about taxpayers supporting NFL football.

What a joke.

The Vikings have never won a Super Bowl, and are having a rotten season this year.

Since I don’t follow the game, I only see the aftermath in the morning after coffee crowd who mostly watched the game on television.

These days, there isn’t much animated conversation about The Team. The Vikings have died and gone to hell…quite literally.

Still, when all is said and done, my prediction is that even in these dismal economic times, when everything else is being cut, the State Legislature will find a way to involve ‘we, the people’ in helping along the wealth machine that is the NFL and its teams, including the Vikings GETTING THEIR STADIUM.

So, how much should this matter? Of course, points of view differ.

Real roughly, it seems that perhaps 1 of 1,000 Minnesotans actually attend the home games of the Vikings during the season, and, likely, most of these attend more than one game or are season ticket holders.

Very few care much about what the stadium looks like, or what amenities it has.

Lots of others (not I, thank you) watch the games at home or in other gathering places. But their time is not occupied by seeing how wonderful the corporate boxes are, or how good the obscenely priced drinks or food at the stadium are.

You could play the game in a large warehouse, with a green screen (a la the weatherman’s invisible screen) and sound effects, and nobody would know the difference. There’s a great plenty of authentic crowd pictures and noise already archived.

That would be much more efficient.

But in the end, we’ll cough up several hundred million dollars one way or the other, to preserve a home team which doesn’t perform especially well, and most of us will never see the inside of their stadium. There’ll be another coach, another quarterback, a new tight end…by Super Bowl XC (we’re approaching XLVI in a few months) THE VIKINGS WILL WIN!!! And that new stadium will have to be replaced, again.

What happens between now and the Minnesota Special Session, and after, will be political fodder in 2012. Gov. Dayton knows this; so do the legislators.

The real losers will be the school kids, the small rural cities and country, the poor, the people who suffer loss of revenue or services to help satisfy a greedy industry and its satellite businesses dependent on it.

Sad.