Our state lawmakers' job got a little tougher during the weekend.
You can blame the age of the Metrodome for this weekend's roof collapse. You can blame the weather. Both played a factor. But make no mistake: The push for a new Vikings' stadium will soon become a shove.
Credit the Vikings for not immediately running to the Capitol and pounding on its doors this weekend, demanding the stadium issue take center stage when the 2011 Legislature convenes - they're well aware of the state's priorities. But don't expect the team to sit on the sidelines for much longer given what happened Sunday morning.
Members of the House and Senate were already in for a tough session, what with a $6.2 billion snow drift standing in their way. There are a lot of new faces that will be appearing at the Capitol next year, along with a new Democratic governor facing a Republican-controlled House and Senate, and they all know their work is cut out for them. They're also facing a reality check on a new stadium. Education and transportation are still very important, but if there were ever a time when the stadium issue should be expedited, it's now. Education and transportation were important a few years ago, too, but the Legislature found a way to get the Twins into a new ballpark. Now it must do the same for the Vikings.
The Vikings, who have one more year on their Metrodome lease, have for a number of years been pining for a new home, as the Dome has been turned into the laughingstock of the NFL. So far the drum-beating has gotten them nowhere as they've watched two other new stadiums go up in Minnesota. Not only is it their turn now, it's time for the Legislature to take care of them. It certainly won't be easy; dealing with the state's budget deficit is clearly priority No. 1. But let's call the Vikings stadium priority No. 1A.
The Legislature has been able to get by the last few years pushing the stadium issue aside until another time because the Dome had continued to serve its purpose and serve it well. But that's not the case anymore. Now there are real major safety issues at play. The state can't hit snooze on this one any longer. It's time to wake up. Otherwise, Vikings fans' hopes of the team staying in Minnesota will collapse just like the roof did.