I spent a long time with the Vikings owner and Lester Bagley, the team vice president of public affairs and stadium development, on Wednesday as those meetings were going on, and I am familiar with many people working on the project. There is no doubt that Wilf was very upset that the city of Minneapolis' $895 million stadium proposal by R.T. Rybak was announced to the media before the Vikings.But that's not all:
This is another case where city officials tried to destroy a pro sports team like they did with the North Stars and the Lakers, and they came close to killing this one. I'm positive Wilf will not negotiate with any other site unless the current Ramsey County deal falls apart. And Wilf is determined to get it through the Legislature.I'm pretty sure Sid has sussed this out properly. Minneapolis cannot offer what the Wilfs want. In fact, there was only place in Hennepin County that really provides the same potential as Arden Hills. That is Brooklyn Center, specifically the area where the largely derelict Brookdale Mall sits. That site never was a real contender, though, since Hennepin County is tapped out.
The folks in Minneapolis may not want to hear it, but they have no shot to land the Vikings. But I would take it a step further than Sid does -- I am also increasingly convinced that if the Arden Hills site gets scuttled, the Vikings will be strongly inclined to leave town entirely.
Minneapolis can scuttle the deal. It won't take much to do it, given the visible lack of support for action on the matter in this legislative session. Folks do need to understand that while Sid Hartman has been an alarmist more than once in his long career, he's also seen this movie before. Zygmunt Wilf is not Carl Pohlad. He has no real ties to this region. The hour is a lot later than people realize.