And it’s official: The Minnesota senate yesterday passed the conference version of the Vikings stadium bill by a vote of 36-30, giving final legislative approval to the $1 billion project, which will receive $500 million in construction subsidies, plus about $300 million in public money for operating costs. (Or as the Los Angeles Times puts it: “The Vikings will pay $477 million of the stadium costs, the public $348 million and the city of Minneapolis $150 million.” That would be The City of Minneapolis, LLC, presumably.) The Minneapolis city council still needs to sign off on the deal, as does Gov. Mark Dayton, but those are considered formalities.
Stadium supporters celebrated at the capitol, while opponents warned of pending doom (“We know there are going to families who are going to lose their house, probably their marriages, their cars, their livelihoods so we can enjoy football,” said state senator John Howe of the expanded gambling that will help fund the project).
And, of course, everyone started focusing on the question of who’ll be next to get a new stadium, now that Minnesota has set the baseline at $1 billion (fourth-most expensive NFL stadium ever) and $500 million in public construction subsidies (second-most after the Indianapolis Colts), reversing a trend that had seen the New York Giants, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers pay for more than 50% of their new facilities. The San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Purdy wrote that “you can hear dominoes falling, all the way from Minnesota,” opining that with the Vikings off the table for an L.A. move, “the [Oakland] Raiders are in good position to stare down Oakland officials and not blink.” The St. Louis Rams, meanwhile, have upped the ante in their own stadium upgrade campaign, reportedly demanding that the Edward Jones Dome have its fixed roof replaced with a retractable one, something that 1) may not be feasible, 2) would come at an unknown cost, and 3) seems dubious how much benefit it would be for anyone, unless Rams fans are really steering clear of games because they can’t see a patch of blue sky.
Not to be a broken record (in case any readers are too young to have seen a record, perhaps this will help), but it’s important to remember in all this that Los Angeles currently has two new-stadium plans that have been officially designated by the NFL as unacceptable, thanks mostly to the fact that a team owner (or the league) would have to pay for most of the construction cost via either rent payments or a chunk of equity in the team. And maybe also because this not having a team in L.A. thing is just working great for the league’s existing franchises as a boogeyman to scare local elected officials with. NFL owners, start your airplane engines!