Nearly since the Metrodome first began housing the Minnesota Vikings, Lester Bagley has served as point man on the team's efforts to construct a new, billion dollar stadium. Bagley's utter fleecing of his employers over that span of time aside, the purpose of Bagley's endeavor has been to ensure that, for whichever Vikings' ownership group he has served as public-good-implications-aside mercenary, he obtained an expensive, publicly funded, retractable-roofed, luxury-box-ensconced, revenue-stream rich stadium, replete with public funding, in perpetuity--a stadium that would draw not only unrelenting revenue but also equity for the team and league.
Bagley and his minions--many of them found throughout the local media and most evidently displayed in local newscasts wondering such things as "where should the next Vikings' stadium be located?"--routinely and consistently have pointed to the end of the 2011 season as the bewitching point. That is when, we are cautioned, the Vikings will prove that they mean business, packing up their Minnesota shop and heading for the new stadium in the sky.
If not before, certainly now is the time for the good people of Minnesota to provide a counter-proposal to Bagley and his carpet-bagging cohorts. That message should read as follows:
"At the end of the scheduled 2011 NFL season, the State of Minnesota invites the Minnesota Vikings to renew their Metrodome lease. That lease will not include any of the perks that the Vikings currently enjoy to the tune of tens of millions of dollars every year, perks such as advertising, naming rights, and tax concessions. Rather, those rights will return to the operators of the Metrodome and the residents of Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota. Rent also will increase, placing the Vikings on the same footing as other tenants in the Minneapolis area. We recognize, of course, that the Vikings' ownership group might balk at this proposal and prepare for the team's departure. Should they opt to take this course, searching for a market that does not yet exist, we certainly wish them well."
The result for Minnesota will be either a far better return on a product that currently receives an unwarranted sweetheart deal or the loss of a mounting tax burden that occupies a valuable chunk of the downtown real estate. Instead of the choice falling to the people of Minnesota, the people of MInnesota ought to let the choice fall to the ownership group of the Vikings with notice clearly given that the State and local governments, not Bagley or his minions, hold the winning cards. If the Vikings wish to depart, so be it. Cheering for jerseys no longer has the broad appeal it once did.
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