It was fun to watch the outdoor Vikings game on Monday, especially from the comfort of my family room, although as a Packers fan I wasn't especially enamored of the outcome. The issue of what to do about the Metrodome has become a big topic in recent days, following the continuing problems with the roof.
I heard a report on the radio (during my two hour commute) that in order to clear more snow off an already compromised teflon panel, someone decided to fire a shotgun slug at the roof. I suppose there's a symbolic value in that, as a lot of people would like to take the dome out back and shoot it and now the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission is apparently doing just that.
The question before us hasn't changed: what is the economic rationale behind spending as much as a billion dollars on a new football stadium for the team? There's no gainsaying the love that many people have for the Vikings. But nothing has changed about the economic picture. There's little economic rationale for building a new stadium for a tenant that plays 10 games a season, especially with public money. And since we've all been hectored incessantly about the state's $194 gigabillion deficit, there simply can't be any way that there's money for such an edifice.
So we need some new solutions for this issue, which requires some different thinking. I'm proposing an idea, but I'd like to hear some others.
Let's start with a notion that has plays out all the time in these parts. There's a conflict between high and low culture, although politicians love to green light either. A good example of this is the new complex that was built for the Guthrie Theater (on a site that would have made a nice place for a football stadium, of course), or the millions spent to move the old Shubert Theater building a block and a half to a new site, where it then sat vacant for a decade. But while the high culture types enjoy the subsidizing of their entertainment preferences, they hate spending money on football stadiums.
We know a few things about Mark Dayton -- he has always been more fond of spending other people's money than he is of spending his own, but he also is willing to sell art for things that matter to him, like his own self-aggrandizement. So what we need here is a compromise. I'm thinking we could build a new stadium if the incoming governor would sell off some of his art collection and use the proceeds to set up a new stadium/art gallery space. We could display the remainder of Dayton's collection in the concourses of the new stadium and hire the food service from the Walker to serve organic bratwurst on artisan buns. Either that or merge the Vikings with the Walker and integrate the Spoonbridge into a new pedestrian bridge for entering the stadium. Heck, why not do both? We can then call the new stadium Dayton Walker Wilf Stadium, which serves the added purpose of putting Mark Dayton's name on something beyond failed policy initiatives. And if the Wilfs are willing to accept third billing, we can let them help build the thing and tack on some appropriately high-end retail.