Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vikings to Arden Hills? IV -- Game On

The Vikings came to Arden Hills yesterday. They would like to move in:

The Minnesota Vikings and Ramsey County announced an agreement on Tuesday to build a $1 billion football stadium with a retractable roof in Arden Hills, capping a furious day of last-minute negotiations and brushing aside concerns from Gov. Mark Dayton and others that the project may be seriously flawed.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, flanked by the team's iconic former coach, Bud Grant, described the deal as purple-clad fans broke into cheers and applause at a county public works facility. The team, trying to build momentum for a plan that already faces heavy skepticism at the State Capitol, showed a film that attempted to link the new stadium to the team's glory days, when it played in the cold at Met Stadium in Bloomington during the 1960s and '70s.

There's a whole lot to unpack about this story. We'll get to the politics in a later post, but for now I want to concentrate on two things:

1) What the Vikings are saying; and
2) What it means about certain assumptions the state government routinely makes:

Let's say this from the start:  I agree with the clear majority of Minnesotans that public money for a Vikings stadium ought to be off the table. We have bigger issues to deal with, now and later. Having said that, we need to recognize a few things.
  • The Vikings may talk about civic commitment and the emotional purchase they have on people in this state, but in the end those things mean far less than money. The Vikings prefer the Arden Hills location because they can make more money there than they could in any configuration in Minneapolis. Neither RT Rybak, nor Mike Opat, nor anyone else in the Mill City can provide what Arden Hills does.
  • The Vikings talked at some length yesterday about the importance of the fan experience, specifically tailgating. Tailgating is fun, but adding parking revenue to their coffers is much more fun for the Vikings than throwing a frisbee around or pounding a few Grain Belts before kickoff.
  • The Vikings aren't looking at their new stadium as a place to play -- they are looking at it as a place to be. I would imagine that if they can get control of the Arden Hills site, they will build more than just a Hall of Fame. I would fully expect they'd leave Winter Park as well.
  • Regarding infrastructure, one thing should be clear. Unlike Rybak, the Met Council and other random bien pensants around town, the Vikings couldn't care less about light rail. Repeatedly we have heard how access to light rail is a key selling feature for the proposed Minneapolis sites. It's not. The Vikings can't make any money from light rail, so it's useless to them. Dudes driving SUVs who are willing to pay $25 for a parking spot? That's useful.
  • The last-ditch Minneapolis proposal suggests that the politicians in Hennepin County overvalue what they bring to the table. Despite what Rybak and his pals said, the plan they proffered wasn't serious in the least. It had the vibe of a guy checking under the couch cushions looking for enough money to buy a pack of smokes.
  • I would assume that the Minneapolis politicians will now do everything in their power to sandbag the Arden Hills proposal. Let's just say this:  that would be a big mistake.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

Faith suggests that the old days of Vikings going about pillaging isn't over. Arden Hills, get ready to pony up the Danegeld.

Anonymous said...

$25 dollars a parking spot? The Cowboys are getting $100 for preferred parking.

The Vikings have got to love their position. They went from getting no offers of Socialism for the Rich, to most likely being able to pick from at least 2 offers.

Night Writer said...

I'd have to go back to check (and I don't really have the time or inclination) but wasn't yesterday's announcement on par with the erstwhile Anoka Co. Vikings stadium from a few year's back, and didn't that "done deal" eventually get scuttled - ostensibly - because of wetland concerns? Is building on a superfund site as much of a political lever as a wetland? I guess we'll see.

(And somewhere I hear Randy Moss saying "Superfund, homey.")

Mr. D said...

Is building on a superfund site as much of a political lever as a wetland? I guess we'll see.

That won't matter, because the Feds are on the hook for the cleanup costs. Mind you, that's just a different pocket of the same wallet, but it won't be a factor in the accounting for the deal.

Bike Bubba said...

An interesting thought regarding parking: $25/spot times ten games a year, minus labor costs, doesn't get enough revenue to keep pavement solid in Minnesota.

Unless, of course, the pavement is bought with government money.

On the other hand, I would also think that a great way of preventing a Superfund site from getting out of hand would be to pave it over.