Sorry, Los Angeles. You’ll have to be cool with a super awesome new proposed spaceship stadium, but still no NFL team. Surely you can continue to amuse yourself with superhero fights.
A month ago legislative bickering seriously threatened the Vikings new stadium and had Vikings owner Zygi Wilf flirting with a move to L.A. But the final hurdle was cleared earlier this afternoon, with Minnesota’s City Council voting 7-6 in favor of approving the funding for a new, far more modern stadium. The clearance of said hurdle ensured that football fans in the land of many lakes and days with desolate winter conditions will (a) still have a football team and (b) be able to watch football in a stadium that doesn’t threaten human life.
The fine taxpayers of Minnesota will pay $309 million of the bill for the new stadium set to be ready for the 2016 season, while $477 million will come from Wilf’s cavernous pockets, and the league will kick in the rest..
Here’s the part where I take my personal experience as a former small town newspaper man and fail in an attempt to relate it to the major issues facing a major city.
When I worked for the esteemed Picton Gazette primarily covering local town council, the thriving town of Picton, Ontario needed a new wastewater treatment plant, more commonly refereed to as the place where your poop goes. If memory serves me right (and it’s failed many times before), the initial estimate for the cost was $30 million. That feels like pocket change when compared to Minnesota’s new stadium, but remember that we’re talking about a town with a population of roughly 4,000 here.
After months of debate and at least 58 hours of intense, hard-hitting coverage by me (only a mild exaggeration…seriously), the cost was negotiated down to about $23 million, an acceptable but still painful price tag.
I’ve subjected you to those two paragraphs of personal nostalgia because the quote below explains why often it’s necessary for municipalities both big and small to spend and take the hurt now to ensure a better future, economic or otherwise. The impact of certain capital projects runs so deep, that the investment is well worth the return.
From the Sports Exchange:
“It’s one of those tough decisions that you need every generation or so to keep a city moving forward,” Mayor R.T. Rybak told the Star Tribune. “But it’s also based on … something I’ve had to deal with from the start, which is to clean up the city’s finances, and I think we did that.”
The collective pockets of the city will hurt temporarily, because Wilf couldn’t pay for his own playhouse entirely, and the threat of a move was very real.
But that hurt will be balanced by the economic activity that remains in Minnesota due to the presence of an NFL team during those cold, dark winters.