Sen. Doug Magnus made a bold political move last week when he signed on with his support of a stadium bill for the Vikings.
It was a bold move for a couple of reasons:
One, he's not a metro lawmaker, he's from Slayton - not exactly a hop, skip and jump from any place the Vikings might end up playing. Rural legislators have rural constituents and those constituents, for the most part, don't crave things like professional stadiums as much as urban voters do - voters who attend far more pro sports events than those from southwestern or northwestern Minnesota. And two: The state is in crisis mode financially. Lawmakers are working to solve Minnesota's $5 billion budget deficit - a problem that easily trumps any stadium issue. Magnus' plate also includes chairing the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee. So much to do, and time is slowly eroding away to get everything done.
Magnus is serious about wanting to keep the Vikings in Minnesota, but he's also serious about a two-way street that he knows needs to be developed between policymakers and the team. There are sure to be potholes in this street, but to fill them, the Vikings have to bring more to the table than $300 million, Magnus himself has said so numerous times. The senator has gone on record criticizing the team for not having a plan firm enough to warrant serious attention from the Legislature.
Republican Sen. Julie Rosen's stadium bill was introduced Monday, although it might not show up in committee for a couple of weeks. Rosen says there is plenty of time left in the session to get a Vikings bill done, but if the team doesn't respond with a comprehensive plan and doesn't come up with a legitimate partner for a stadium in the coming weeks it won't get anywhere this year - at least not with Magnus. And if it doesn't happen this year, the Vikings - with a Metrodome lease that expires after the upcoming season?- could be looking for a new home state.
It's going to take a team effort to fix the state's deficit, and it's going to take a team effort to keep the Vikings in Minnesota.
By joining this team this early - Magnus is one of only three senators sponsoring the bill so far - the rural legislator has put himself on the line, but he didn't jump in without testing the water. And if the Vikings think they can roll up to the Capitol drive-thru style and sweet talk the Legislature into doing all the heavy lifting to get a stadium bill finalized, they'll need to check their rearview mirror and throw it in reverse when they leave, because the two-way street could quickly include a major detour.