Writer’s Block: At least the stadium debate is behind us

Although I am a fanatical football fan, I had a lukewarm reaction when I saw that funding was approved for the Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Eric Hagen
Eric Hagen

I believe the Vikings would have left the Twin Cities if Zygi Wilf did not get his new stadium.

However, I’m upset that a government and the people it represents can be held hostage by implied threats from fans, the team and certain politicians.

The most annoying part of this whole situation for me has been the process. I was looking through the Anoka County Union’s archives the other day for background research on another story and

I saw a photo of Wilf standing by then Anoka County Commissioner Margaret Langfeld and Tom Ryan, mayor of Blaine.

The headline of this July 28, 2006 story was titled “Parties reaffirm their intent for Vikes’ stadium in Blaine.”

The article stated that the 2006 state Legislature passed legislation directing Anoka County and the Vikings to prepare a stadium proposal for the 2007 session.

It took almost six years from that day until a new stadium was approved for the city of Minneapolis.

The Vikings should have been more realistic to understand that it would take some time for legislators to stomach a stadium bill and could have waited a few more years, especially once the economic recession began.

The state Legislature could have just voted down proposals and told the Vikings to try again rather than just taking no action. Minneapolis should have jumped in the stadium race sooner.

I personally think there should have been a statewide sales tax increase instead of this electronic pull tab venture.

Many nonprofits that have charitable gambling locations are already struggling. Now there will be even more competition for limited dollars.

We are also targeting gamblers to pay our debts for the stadium. That idea does not sit well with me.

Nobody wants a tax increase, but we will be on the hook somehow if this electronic gambling idea does not work out.

The whole state benefits from having the Minnesota Vikings in some way, so a very minimal statewide sales tax increase would have been justified in my mind.

Minneapolis should have allowed the people to vote on the local sales tax issue.

Some have said this would have led to the defeat of the new stadium proposal. Perhaps it would have, but a vote would have been the best way to find out if there is true support of this proposal.

Perhaps Wilf would have delayed any move or sale to another party for a year or two to give the state Legislature another chance to change its mind after the 2012 election, but I think it would have been inevitable.

While I obviously have no inside knowledge of what Wilf would have done had the Legislature denied the stadium bill again, history has shown that the NFL is more than willing to uproot historic franchises if more money could be made elsewhere.

In many cases, an expansion team came to a city that lost a team.

The Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis. Baltimore eventually received the Cleveland Browns franchise and changed the name to the Baltimore Ravens.

Cleveland now has a team called the Browns, but there was a three-season gap between 1996 and 1998 when it did not have a team.

Not long after losing the team to Baltimore, plans were developed to build a new stadium in Cleveland.

There used to be two St. Louis Cardinals teams, but the professional football team moved to Arizona.

Now there is the St. Louis Rams. Houston lost the Oilers to Tennessee, which was later renamed the Tennessee Titans. The Houston Texans is another expansion team.

If the Vikings had left for Los Angeles or another city, I would not have doubted that some other elected officials down the road would feel compelled to get another team.