A frustrated Dayton emerged from a tense meeting with Republicans and said he was postponing his plan to announce on Monday a stadium-funding proposal. The meeting came after another day of stadium politics that erupted after House Speaker Kurt Zellers messaged lawmakers Tuesday night to say he had "repeatedly" told Dayton he opposed a special session and felt the issue could wait until next year.I'm not sure what "largely dodged" means, but another Republican was plenty forthright:
While Zellers largely dodged questions on where he stood after the Wednesday meeting with Dayton, the DFL governor pointedly said that he was "very surprised" by Zellers' comments.
Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, who chairs the House Property and Local Tax Division, said since the summer there has been a sense growing among House members "who do not believe there's an emergency."
She dismissed any threat that the Vikings, who have played in the downtown Minneapolis Metrodome since 1982, would leave Minnesota if a publicly subsidized stadium is not approved soon.
"We've seen the stadium games played out all the previous decades," she said. "There's always a threat."
Then Lester Bagley, who has been riding point on this issue for Vikings, issued a threat:
Lester Bagley, the team's vice president for stadium development and public affairs, said that "it's only going to get more expensive and more difficult to resolve, especially if the state allows the lease to expire with no action. The Vikings' lease expires in 90 days. At that point, we will be the only NFL team without a lease."So where does that leave us?
- It would seem that the Republican caucus assumes the Vikings are bluffing. They may be correct in that belief.
- I've seen it argued elsewhere that the Vikings wouldn't leave the Twin Cities because the NFL values the market too much. That may be, but it's worth remembering that the NFL doesn't have much leverage in controlling franchise movement. The recently deceased Al Davis took the NFL to court on numerous occasions as he moved his team up and down the West Coast in the 1980s and he won every court battle. If a team decides it wants to move, there's really not much the NFL can do to stop it.
- Because the Vikings can move, they have significant leverage. What we don't know is what owner Zygi Wilf is doing outside of public view. When the Browns left Cleveland in 1995, local officials were completely surprised to learn that owner Art Modell had been negotiating with Baltimore. I would assume that Wilf has a few people in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, on his speed dial. Wilf could easily sell the team to another group, or take up one of the slots in Los Angeles. One thing to watch -- Peter O'Malley is working on assembling an ownership group to buy back the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team from current owner Frank McCourt. O'Malley's group has also indicated that they might pursue an NFL franchise.
- Remember, the NFL could put two teams in the L.A. market, one in the AFC and one in the NFC.
- From what I can see, the only other team that would be likely to move to L.A. soon would be the San Diego Chargers. If the NFL had its way, the Jacksonville Jaguars would be the franchise they'd prefer to move into the market, since it has now become evident that Jacksonville isn't able to support a team. The Jaguars have a lease that does not run out until 2030, however. While the team and the league could break the lease, it would be a messy event. The Chargers could opt out of their lease but they have been working year-to-year with the local officials there. That relationship is more stable than what we have here.
Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?