Well done, governor.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton this week put his foot down on the Vikings stadium issue, telling team owner Zygi Wilf there is only one acceptable site for the team's proposed stadium. He told Wilf if he wants to get something done at the Capitol this session the team will have to agree to build on the Metrodome site.
The governor's move this week essentially told the Vikings: "This will happen at the Dome or it won't happen at all."
The Vikings want to build their billion-dollar stadium in Arden Hills because that way Wilf can expand the area there into some sort of Zygiland where amenities would abound - a cool concept for sure, but we're more interested in getting this stadium issue resolved. The quicker it does, the more time legislators can focus on issues that affect all Minnesotans, like jobs and the economy in this state. We're not saying the stadium issue isn't important (that in and of itself will create many jobs for the next three or four years), and we don't want to lose the Vikings, but the Legislature has enough to deal with.
So many questions surround the stadium issue, including where to build the thing, and that question alone has raised many other issues that weighed down each of the proposed sites. No site was perfect, but the Dome site makes the most sense, even though it means the Vikings will have to play their home games at TCF Stadium during construction. But it isn't like they would be the first professional football team that has had to do that. The Seattle Seahawks, for example, played their home games at the University of Washington while their new stadium was being built, and they survived.
It's nice to see Dayton call the shots on this one, because, in reality, it's quite a bold, political gamble, considering the Vikings don't have a home since their Metrodome lease expired and given Wilf's fondness for the Arden Hills site. Best-case scenario has Wilf buying his way into Arden Hills with another $100 million or so; worst-case scenario has a ticked-off owner packing up and moving his team, and - here's where the gamble comes in - Dayton certainly doesn't want to be known as the governor who let the Vikings slip away. Voters might not have long memories, but this is one that would surely stick - if the Vikings do leave and Dayton isn't reelected in 2014, we'll know why. Still, it's clear the governor feels so strongly in expediting this process that he's willing to ignore the possibility of a backfire.
Good for him.
The governor sent the Vikings and their billionaire owner a strong message Tuesday and a little reminder that it's the people who work at the Capitol who are in charge here, not the man with deep pockets.