Amidst a crowd of both cheers and boos, earlier today, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a measure that will partially subsidize a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Dayton’s signature marks the end of a long and sometimes contentious battle between the Vikings owners, Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, the Minnesota state legislature, and Minnesota taxpayers.
As Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out, the Vikings are glad to have the opportunity to play in a new, state-of-the-art facility. ”The Metrodome, I think it was agreed by all parties that while it served its function and was a great investment for the state and the public, it was time to move on,” said team president Mark Wilf.
However, it is important for Vikings fans to realize that stadiums don’t go up overnight. In fact, the Minnesota Vikings won’t be playing in their new facility full-time until the 2016 season. For the entire 2015 season, and perhaps part of 2014, the Vikings will be playing in the outdoor TCF Bank Stadium while the new venue is under construction. Until that point, the Vikings will remain in the current Metrodome.
The path to legislative approval of the measure to build a new stadium for the Vikings was often a bumpy road. In fact, as Minnesota state representative Morrie Lanning (R – Moorhead) reveals, the bill came very close to dying. Things got particularly complicated when the Minnesota legislature demanded that the Wilfs put forth an additional $50 million to fund the project. “The very night that we finally put the deal together, we were trying to get the Vikings to agree to what we thought we needed in order to get the votes in the Legislature and they didn’t really respond in a positive way,” Lanning told WCCO radio.
Nevertheless, the Wilfs did relent, agreeing to the bump in their share of the funding, and thus guaranteeing that the Vikings will remain in Minnesota for the years and decades to come. Ironically, by 2016, the Vikings roster could look very different than it does now. One wonders if star running back Adrian Peterson will still be a Viking then.