NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will meet with state leaders Friday in a high-stakes effort to win a publicly funded stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.The difference between a warning and a threat is often one of semantics, but I have little doubt that a threat is on the table. Eric Grubman, who is the NFL's designated button man on such issues, had an interview with KFAN's Dan Barreiro yesterday. Grubman said two things that are worth mentioning:
The meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders from both parties follows a Thursday telephone call in which NFL officials told Dayton it was urgent to resolve the stadium issue this spring. "They didn't issue any threats or anything, but it was more of a warning" that the Vikings might leave Minnesota, Dayton said on Thursday. "It was very clear that they see that the Vikings will be in play [to move] if this is not resolved or unfavorably resolved in this session."
- The NFL believes that there are now two viable sites in Los Angeles for a stadium; and
- The NFL will have a team in Los Angeles, but it may not be an expansion team. In fact, there are no plans for expansion in the near term.
Meanwhile, back at the lege, some people still don't understand the state of play:
Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, a vocal opponent of public subsidy packages for stadiums, said she wanted to know whether Goodell was coming as part of an orchestrated stadium lobbying effort or to show how serious the situation really is.
"I honestly want to know that," she said. "Is it real? Is it rhetoric?"
Now, this is some primo silliness. Of course the effort is "orchestrated." Nothing happens in government that isn't orchestrated in one way or another. And orchestration in itself signals a measure of reality. Although it might seem that way at times, random events aren't brought before the legislature.
This moment has been coming for a long time. You don't get the sort of power the NFL has unless you are willing to be ruthless. Minnesotans have been dodging the question for as long as possible, but now it's time to decide. What is having a pro football team worth to this area?