It’s a big week for the Vikings on the field, with 1st-round pick QB Christian Ponder set to start his first career game and with the Green Bay Packers coming to town. But it’s been a big week off the field for the Vikings, too, as the stadium issue in Minnesota has come to the forefront.
The stadium issue in Minnesota is not just at the forefront of the Vikings perspective, either. Governor Mark Dayton has made the issue a priority this week, as have state lawmakers. And in yet another illustration of how important relevant and current this issue is, the NFL has gotten in on the act, too.
On Tuesday, NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman headed a group of League representatives who visited the Twin Cities in an effort to assess the stadium issue in Minnesota. According to Grubman, the mission was to get a status update on the progress of a new stadium for the Vikings and then to report their findings to the NFL’s finance and stadium committees. Grubman also brought some good news with him, saying that the NFL believes a funding mechanism will be available for the Vikings and the State of Minnesota to help finance a stadium project.
Grubman met with reporters after meeting with Governor Dayton and Minnesota Legislators, and he had a couple of key messages. Grubman made it very clear that the NFL’s visit to Minnesota was not to provide a directive to State leaders, rather it was to gain a better understanding of the current status of a stadium project. But Grubman was also asked about the Vikings future in Minnesota, specifically he was asked if there’s a realistic chance of the Vikings moving out of Minnesota if resolution to the stadium issue is not reached in a timely manner.
“It’s really not for me to speculate about the possibility,” Grubman said. “All I’ll say is this: we’re worried about a stalemate. And a stalemate means there’s no lease, or the lease is about to expire. There’s no plan for a stadium, and there’s an alternative plan in another city. That’s a stalemate, and the alternative wouldn’t include Minnesota.
“That is, in the way we look at it, a crisis. It’s the Minnesota Vikings, and we’re here to work on the Minnesota Vikings, not some other Vikings or some other franchise. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, to make sure that every possible step is taken to give the Vikings a great chance to succeed in this market.”
Grubman went on to explain that it’s not uncommon for the NFL to visit a certain city or market to assess the progress on stadium plans. Their presence “could run the gamut from an early fact-finding mission to a serious assessment,” Grubman said. But he made it clear that the NFL views the stadium situation in Minnesota as a high priority at this time.
Asked how the NFL would respond to taxpayers’ resiliency to fund stadium projects for NFL clubs in the current economic climate, Grubman acknowledged that man fans all across the country are enduring tough economic times. He even pointed members of his family who are just now entering the workforce and are finding difficulty in hitting the ground running.
“But I also know that great cities are defined by the great institutions that they support,” Grubman said. “And the great institutions are a variety of things. People are attracted to cities not for the traffic jams. They’re attracted to cities because of the great things in those cities, and those are not just their day jobs. They’re attracted for the arts, the performing arts. They’re attracted for museums. They’re attracted for sports franchises.
“You have to decide what puts your city on the map, you’re state on the map, in the way you want it to be on the map. And that doesn’t just mean the Minnesota map. You’re in a competitive environment for companies to locate, for people to locate, for goods to be bought and sold. And so that decision is really for Minnesotans, it’s not for us. We respect the choices that Legislators and citizens have to make, and we hope that choice includes the Vikings here.”
Tags: New Stadium
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