Sports Nuggets: Great Outdoors Is The Vikings’ Best Option

Editor’s Note: Thanks for checking out Sports Nuggets. Below is Eric Nelson’s opinion on the Vikings stadium issue. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment area at the bottom of the piece.

By Eric Nelson, WCCO-TV

The Minnesota Vikings stadium situation has reached a crisis stage. If a new venue is not approved by Minnesota politicians, the Vikes could take their business elsewhere.

Building a new Purple playpen is a no-brainer. Their current home — the bargain-basement Metrodome — is a joke. In December, after a battering blizzard, the Metrodome’s teflon roof caved in under an avalanche of snow. The deflated dome quickly became a comics dream. Even NBC’s Jay Leno poked fun at the punctured pillow on the Tonight Show.

However, the stadium situation is no joke. The time clearly is now to get this done. If not, the Vikings might take a cue from the Lakers and North Stars and leave the Twin Cities.

Another Dome Means More Doom

If Minnesota builds a new stadium, it SHOULD NOT be a hard-shell dome. That would be FOOLISH. No one builds fixed-roof domes anymore — that was a trend in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. It is not done in 2011.

The Vikings need an open air stadium, so they can return to the elements and play in Minnesota’s theater of seasons. The snow, rain, heat, sun and wind should be part of a Vikings game day experience.

The most memorable moments in Vikings history happened at Bloomington’s old Met Stadium, where the team’s yearly success put them on the NFL map. Between 1968 and 1979, Minnesota morphed into a superpower, and the purple’s popularity blossomed, creating a fan base from coast to coast.

TOV Vs. TIV Is No Contest

Technically speaking, there have been 50 seasons of Minnesota Vikings football. However, in reality there have been two Viking franchises: The Outdoor Vikes (TOV) and The Indoor Vikes (TIV).

Comparing TOV to TIV is no comparison. TOV had a frozen mystique that gave the team an identity. TOV fostered the Purple People Eaters, tailgating, and Met Stadium weather snapshots that include postcard-like fall days and winter wonderland playoff games in frigid weather.

TIV have no identity. They are one of the NFL’s cookie-cutter teams, playing in the homogeneous and sterile Metrodome. In the drab and dreary dome every game is groundhog game — the exact same setting from week to week and from year to year. Nothing changes except the players and coaches.

TOV played in four Super Bowls while TIV have never played in a Super Bowl.

TOV once had the same rugged, weather-tested image that the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots currently enjoy.

Bring Back Minnesota’s Home Tundra Advantage

Viking fans got a chance to turn back the clock in December when Minnesota hosted Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium on the U of M campus. The Viking fans who showed up had a blast watching the game in a snowstorm — despite seeing the purple get pummeled 40-14.

The game was a flashback to the way NFL games used to be in Minnesota.

In 2010, the NFL Network ranked Met Stadium as the 10th best home field advantage in NFL history. Yes, the Vikings once had their own frozen tundra that spooked opposing teams — especially from tropical places like Los Angeles, Miami and Tampa Bay.

Back in the day Minnesota was the NFL’s North Pole and Viking games in the elements garnered huge TV ratings and created fantastic fan memories.

Minnesota needs to get that back and can, because the last time I checked it still snows in the Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes.

The Purple Should Be Priority 1

The top priority in the stadium debate should be providing the Vikings with a state-of-the-art outdoor home — just like the Twins have with trendy Target Field, the Gophers with TCF Bank Stadium, and the Wild with the Xcel Energy Center. The Vikings popularity dwarfs any other team in the state. Protecting the purple and keeping the NFL shield in Minnesota is crucial.

The Vikings need an open-air stadium in the suburbs with a footprint big enough for tailgating, a team Hall of Fame and other development options.

If Minnesota has to have a covered facility for rollerblading, NCAA basketball games, college baseball and tractor-truck pulls, keep the Metrodome. Use some of the new stadium’s taxpayer-generated money to pay the yearly tab that would keep the Metrodome afloat.

Give The Vikings Their Identity Back

The biggest blunder in Vikings history wasn’t Mike Lynn’s trade for Herschel Walker, their countless post-season failures, or allowing Brett Favre to run the team. No, it was when the Vikings moved from the great outdoors to the climate-controlled indoors.

Since then the Super Bowl appearances have vanished and dome games are nothing more than an artificially enhanced rock concert.

Minnesota can right the wrong by returning the Vikings back where they belong — in the elements.

It’s time the Minnesota Vikings get their identity back.

More from Eric Nelson
  • EdW

    Nobody’s disputing whether or not the Vikings need a new stadium to continue playing in Minnesota. The dispute is who should pay for it. As long as NO public money is used, the Vikings are welcome to build their own stadium, collect 100% of the profits, and stay in Minnesota.

    • Khan

      How many Nfl teams built their own stadiums in the past 6-7 years. if this market is SO good for football, Why wouldn’t they want to build they own stadium? Answer because they know they can sucker some other city or state to do it for them. My dad had seaon tickets at the met and I still watch the Vikes. But why are we building stadiums for billionaires? It’s their business not ours. If its such a great boost to the economy let the businesses who are benifitting from it pay for it, I’d bet no one steps forward. They just anounced that they finally earned back the original price of the dome, only took 30 years and 2 teams to do it. How long will it take with 1 teams and a more expensive stadium? If the state insists on this then they have to mandate that they can only hire people who are unemployed.

    • phil

      My tax payer dollars go toward state parks, public transportation, and programs I will never use or have any concern for. It doesnt take a brain surgeon to see the quality of life logic and economic impact that a professional sports team has on a large metrolitan community. Even if you have never watched a single football game in your life. Look at what Target Field did for the downtowen area, and the Xcel Center for St. Paul, I dont think anyone is clamering for the demolition of theose venues. I am tired of all these “fleecing” claims, it happens everyday and every budget session.

      Secondly, if the Vikings do end up leaving, it is going to be the North Stars all over again. Move away, fans grow agitated, government realizes that they that made a huge mistake, politicians begin grandstanding, bil is introduced, new team is formed, and now we are right back where we started. Except now – 10 years down the road the price has tripled, and all of your tax incentives have waved “goodbye” 5 years prior. Just sayin…

  • Paula

    Use the insurance money to refurbish the Dome.

  • bob

    Lets build a casino or get rid of them. Maybe then we can watch the better games on Sundays.

  • Brad

    TOV was pre-free agency system, pre-addition of 4 teams, pre-salary cap. It is really a fair comparison to compare the two. I would suggest that the majority of teams have become cookie cutter during that time.

    I haven’t heard any suggestion that a move to the outdoors isn’t welcomed by most fans, but to suggest that is the reason that the Vikes have done poorly is a strech IMO.

    With the new stadium they need to be creative and find a way to fund it with minimal tax dollars. Carolina did it with only ~70.5 millon (adjusted to 2010 dollars) of taxpayer money. I suspect you could get that level of funding now. However, it makes no sense to fund an optional, private business when you have a huge budget shortfall.

  • A

    I totally agree with everything stated in this article. However, anyone that doesn’t give a rip about football would never agree with this. You really have to be a fan of the sport to see eye to eye with what’s being said here.

  • No public funds for private enterprise

    The Vikings can do what they want … IF they pay for it.

    Taxpayer funding for a new Viking stadium should be the LAST thing on the list. Have you driven on any MN roads lately? If we don’t do some repair on them pretty soon nobody would be able to get to a new stadium anyway!

    Kahn is right … why indeed should we build a stadium for a billionaire?

  • Kari Harding

    I enjoyed reading this article, I will look for more items written by Mr. Nelson in the future. I learned a lot more about this stadium issue because it was a fun read.

  • Nancy

    The arguement of no public funds is invalid. Public funds were used for Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, and XCEL Center. Why not for the Vikings?

    • Brad

      An alternate view of the situation might be that they shouldn’t have been used for any of those projects either, and this is the chance to do it properly?

  • v

    When will people quit using the cliché and juvenile case that we’d be building a stadium for a billionaire? What we’d be doing is funding a VENUE for use. It’s no different than funding the construction of an airport to lure major airlines or funding infrastructure to lure businesses. These people who use the ‘build for a billionaire’ card and/or use the ‘fine, let them leave’ argument should just pack up and move over to Sioux Falls. The Vikings would be missed both emotionally and financially by the community, county and state. I doubt Joe-Schmo-Let-em-Go would be missed by his neighbors.

    • Brad

      IMO the difference is that infrastructure (including an airport) can generally be shown to be financially beneficial to the community as a whole. The benefit of the stadium (esp. when it is still functional as a VENUE) is a toss up depending on what study you believe.

      If you really believe that people would miss the Vikings, leave it to a vote and let the people decide if they wantt o spend the money. If your argument is correct, it should pass easily.

      You start with saying the other side is using juvenile and cliche argument and end it with an ad hominem attack. Ironic.

      • v

        Have you ever done the math on what the players’ income tax brings in from professional sports? Ever lived in a community without a major airport, shopping centers, professional sports? If not, I suggest you try it. As far as my ‘attack’. Who am I attacking? It was a humorous rebuttal to those who believe that losing professional sports is a simple solution because it doesn’t appeal to their particular entertainment values.

        Zigi Wilf will not OWN the stadium. To imply that we’d be building it FOR HIM, is juvenile. Delta does not own the airport. Kohls doesn’t own the land it sits on or the roads and baby trees communities spend money on to lure them (and Starbucks, and Granite City, etc.) The stadium is a necessity to maintain a professional sports franchise. These people who spew all this ‘principle’ rhetoric would be astounded if they took a peek at all the non-headline areas where their money is spent in a similar manner.

        I can’t argue the point that it SHOULD be different. It isn’t, however, and like it or not, professional sports is HUGE in society. Like it or not… it’s 1/4 of our news, 1/5 of our newspaper, etc. To simply write it off and/or treat it as expendable is naive.

        Should we be willing to provide the stadium (a portion), it’s up to our legislators to set the terms so the community reaps the benefits of doing so.

        • Brad

          Here are a new studies (dating back to the 1980’s) on the economics of subsidising a new stadium. These take into account much more than the taxes that the players income taxes.

          I assume you were using sarcasm (not easy to do over the internet), but your comment to V below this makes me wonder. ;)

          I didn’t state that he would own it (I know others did). Kohl’s and other stores might not be the best comparison as a the larger percentage of those are not funded by public dollars. Just look at all the bankrupties in commercial real estate. As for other spending, that is a strawman that isn’t relevant. We aren’t talking about what else goes on. We are discussing if this issue should be undertaken. As an aside, I take it from the tone of your comment (and I could be wrong) that you don’t like the way that money is spent. That is all the more reason to not support this issue.

          I agree that writing it off in totality is throwing the baby out with the bath water. What I am suggest (and did in my first post) is that we need to be more creative. Expecting the goverment to do it in totality is not the right path IMO. I think you and I agree thinking the same thing in that regard from your last paragraph.

  • Roger Wilson

    Let the players buy shares in a stadium that they want to play in. See if their financial advisors will give them the advice that they should take 1/2 of their salaries and invest in a stadium that sits empty 95% of the time. It really sounds like a money making proposition to me.

    So, if players can not be given sound financial advice to invest in a stadium, then who should the typical MN taxpayer pick up the tab.

    Let all of the vocal viking backers that want a stadium step up to the plate and take 1/2 of thier income and contribute that salary – throw it awy – to build a cushy stadium, so that the billionaire owners can rake all of the profit out of the investment.

    If the billionaire owners want a place to play their ball games, let them spend 10 billion of their dollars, keep all of the money from the investment, and pay all of the bills for the upkeep.

    If the vikings feel that they have to go to another city to play foot ball or just go away, more power to them.

    All of these ball players are millionaires anyway, so they can go play in their own sandbox.

    Better yet, all of the sports writers and sports announcers that think that there should be another stadium give 90% of their salaries to the billionaire owners so that it will defray the cost of the new stadium.

    Actions speak louder than words. If folks really want the stadium, empty their piggybanks, their savings acoounts, their 401Ks, – give it all to the billionaire owners and enjoy the millionaires play with thier toys while the contributors own familys starve to death and lose their homes because the generaous contributors have given everytthing away to let the big kids play in the grass.

    • v

      It’s painfully obvious that Roger was last picked in kickball as a child, and has yet to get over it.

  • sb

    I totally agree with Phil & V and Bob if you want a casino move to Vegas. Why can we pay for the Twins and the Gophers and not the Vikings half the time the gophers are in the news for going to jail good role models there.

    • Guy

      Gophers = bad role models … as opposed to those paragons of virtue like Darrien Scott (assult 2008) ; Chris Cook (threats with weapons 2011), Everson Griffen (assault on a police officer 2011) … oh and lets not forget the wonderful
      Randy Moss (antics too many to enumerate), You might try doing your homework before spouting off about how wonderful the Vikes are.

      • R

        Based on your comment, does it mean that you are ready to empty out all of your balnk accounts of you and your friends and give it all to the owner of the Vikings so that the owner can reap the benefit of your generoosity.

        Why should the very large % of MN taxpayers pay for something where basically one man is going to reap the largest benefit.
        This certainly doesn’t sound like a financial operation that I or any other responsible member of the state would want.
        Thanks for your consideration.

        • v

          Can you point everyone to an example where ’emptying out our bank accounts’ was a solution or a proposal? Quit being so dramatic. St. Paul was revived with Excel. The warehouse district is alive again with Target Field. Why are you so focused on the wealth of one man? Do you realize that a proposed sales tax hike to pay for this stadium would amount to $1.87 a YEAR per household? Go spend a year in Omaha, Sioux Falls, Des Moines. None of these towns are building stadiums, but their residents all travel HERE to experience a ‘big city’. A city without arts, entertainment, and yes, big-league sports is just another town. The Vikings represent our community and our state. They will be here long after Mr. Wilf has gone. I make money how and where I can. Zigi Wilf is doing the same. He didn’t write the financial model for pro sports. If you want to be in the ‘game’… there’s a price tag. If not, let’s just call ourselves Omaha North and read about all the other communities who found a way to ‘survive’ their respective stadium dilemmas. Pittsburgh, Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis… oh how are all those people making it after emptying their pocketbooks?

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  • Outdoor Football Crusader

    Eric Nelson’s got it right. Not only is an outdoor stadium a better option for the team and the fans, but it’s a better option for the pocketbook as well. Recent estimates of a fixed roof’s cost are around $200 million. If the cost of an open-air stadium is around $700 million and Zygi is willing to pay a third of that, the state’s contribution would be $466.67 million. Adding the entire cost of a roof to that would increase the state’s contribution by about 43%! And for what? We’re getting a brand new roof on the Metrodome, which is only a thirty year old building. The state has absolutely no need for a new enclosed stadium sized building. Leave the Metrodome standing. The one Superbowl a new roofed facility would afford wouldn’t come close to even covering 1/4 the cost of a roof.

    The only thing a new stadium is needed for is the Vikings. Either build the least expensive option available (which happens to be the best for football) or let them go. Adding a roof on a new facility and demolishing the Metrodome would be like adding an amusement park to the new facility and then demolishing Valleyfair. Totally senseless.

    Get the Vikes back outside!

  • Taylor Williams

    Interesting article!

    You and your fans might want to attend an upcoming debate on this extremely important issue. The University of Minnesota Debate Team is hosting a debate between Vikings Assistant Director of Public Affairs Jeff Anderson, Cory Merrifield of, Art Rolnick former Director of Research at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve and Senator John Marty!

    The debate will be held Wednesday, March 30th at 7pm. It is in Willey Hall 125 on the campus’ west bank. Let me know if you have any questions.

    -Taylor Williams

  • Edward C. Aletto

    When people say no public monies they are shooting themselves in the foot.
    Look at the pure tax impact that the vikes have in this state year after year, all commerce combined – hotels , food , memorabila etc. Look at the jobs a new stadium will create in thisState. I feel the people this stadium is to benefit should be taxed more locally. But you have to think outside of the box , government wastes millions a year on foolish spending I’m for some public susidies but only a small percentage. I don’t consider keeping the vikes a nfl franchise in the great State of Minnesota a foolish waste of taxpayer dollar. Bring back outdoor ball and bring back the purple people eaters and some guts to this football team !!

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