Stop shilling: Journalists who resisted new-stadium hype after the Metrodome roof collapse

Sunday is a day for the sportsies, so no one should be surprised that in the wake of the Metrodome’s collapse, the media’s new-stadium shills were braying loudly. Listening to “analysts” on MyFox9’s 90-minute afternoon special, you’d think the bodies had piled up like cordwood, even though nobody, thankfully, was hurt.

But if you’re taking anything other than fantasy football advice from Paul Charchian, Irv Cross and Jim Rich, you’re an idiot. How did those outside the toy store do contextualizing the collapse that could influence a $1 billion policy decision?

Guys like me watch the Star Tribune closely: it stands to gain tens of millions of dollars should a new stadium require the newspaper’s downtown land. 

So, one has to say, thank God for Mike Kaszuba. He’s covered stadium politics for many months; his story is properly astringent, poking the SaveTheVikes group for comparing the Dome’s deflation to I-35W. (Note to SVC and the Fox9 crew: people die building new stadiums, too. See: Miller Park.)

The legislators quoted in Kaszuba’s story hit all the right notes, about how the collapse of the state’s budget might be a wee more important than the collapse of some stadium fabric. Perhaps like you, I suspect our leaders will eventually cave like the stadium’s Teflon, but somebody has to at least articulate differing priorities.

Kaszuba’s story didn’t make the front page (above) — it’s on A6 in my edition — and I’d have tried to put it there to balance the football-centric fan-implication story. But I don’t have a huge issue with the Strib’s choice. The page is dominated by a great Dome-collapse photo and the focus is on immediate implications. You can see the Pioneer Press — whose ownership has no stadium land — went much the same way (below).

In the Strib’s sports section, Jim Souhan (and of course, Sid Hartman) went full shill mode, but at least that’s properly ghettoized. (The pro-stadium Strib editorial page adopted the “debate-can-wait” line that the disingenuous Vikings also took.)

As sports reporters go, the Pioneer Press’ Brian Murphy did a good first-day job reporting how much a replacement roof would cost ($12 million to $15 million). It’s nice to get facts when considering one’s pricey new purchase.

I didn’t have a chance to see the late TV news, so I don’t know how breathlessly reporters bought or fought the “must-build” storyline. Feel free to report your sightings in the comments.

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Chris Kostik on 12/13/2010 - 07:04 am.

    Fox 9 ran with a guy from “Save the Vikings” a website devoted to a new stadium. He ran with the obvious “this shows how much a new stadium is needed” bit. Fox 9 also interviewed someone from New York that came for the game and showed up at the Dome even though there was no game. He jumped all over the roof deflating as a sign that the Metrodome is old. One point I did not hear anyone mention is that this is not the first time this happened and has nothing to do with the Metrodome being 28 years old, maybe has to do with operation but not age.

  2. Submitted by Adam Platt on 12/13/2010 - 07:17 am.

    Well, this was the 5th largest snowstorm in recorded history up here, and one thing the Dome roof has proven is it is vulnerable to snow. But we knew that years ago.

    On the other hand, objecting to positing these obvious questions about the building’s fate, considering the context in the state of the Vikes lease etc., seems hardly to be shilling to me. And if you had listened to Souhan on KSTP-AM yesterday, basically it was a two-hour glib-fest. He hardly seemed concerned about the Dome and mostly wanted to show his distance from the Vikings and their fans and their high level of interest and concern. There was much whining about how sportswriters were being inconvenienced by having to travel to Detroit twice in 4 weeks.

    I think most sportswriters are so jaded by spending time amongst craven athletes and cynical management that they don’t really think like fans and see themselves as above it all. Listen to Reusse or Barreiro or Souhan, for that matter.

    David, I think, in your strong disdain for public financing of sports stadia, you may be seeing bogeymen behind every keyboard and anchor desk. If the fix is in, it’s happening somewhere far less visible.

  3. Submitted by David Brauer on 12/13/2010 - 07:59 am.

    Adam -my personal feelings aside, I don’t object to discussing the 2010 collapse in the context of the Dome’s fate. This was an obvious failure and that’s an obvious angle.

    What I do disparage is the extreme conclusion-jumping. That the roof collapse was related to the Dome’s age. (Unproven.) That fans could have been killed. (Highly unlikely, given Dome officials had *already* postponed the game and sure as hell weren’t going to let fans in until the roof was cleared.)

    That the Dome collapses every few moments (last one was 24 freakin’ years ago – that’s a record of stability that people need to be reminded of.)

    That somehow yesterday’s event fundamentally changed the economic realities pro or con – it didn’t, though it’s easily exploitable.

    I don’t know what Souhan said on the radio – there’s only so much I’ll do for my job – but I do not consider the roof’s fall “undeniable proof” that the Vikings need a new stadium. Jim is soft-headed if he thinks so (and if he thinks Vikings stadium will have nearly the economic/cultural effect of Target Field!).

    By the way, the last NFL postponement was at a fixed-roof stadium. (The Superdome.) And are we all positive we could clear 17.1 inches of snow from an outdoor bowl in time to play Sunday’s game?

  4. Submitted by Hudson Leighton on 12/13/2010 - 09:15 am.

    “As sports reporters go, the Pioneer Press’ Brian Murphy did a good first-day job reporting how much a replacement roof would cost ($12 million to $15 million).”

    But how much to just replace the panel(s) that tore?

  5. Submitted by Adam Platt on 12/13/2010 - 09:23 am.

    Well, I guess I would not wanted to have been in the upper deck when the roof “blew.” But otherwise, you are correct that the roof collapse is not necessarily proof of anything in regards to a new stadium.

    The Dome is an aging, uncomfortable facility to host nearly 60K fans complete with parkas and hats. The concourses are jammed to bursting and the modern amenities are scarce. Vikings tickets are a curse, not an asset in my book. That’s the case against the Dome, not that the roof is prone to collapse in once-in-a-decade snows.

    I guess what I was hearing from the local sports media that than the collapse would give the Vikings an opening, so to speak. It was a tactical argument, not an evidence-based one. But then again, I would not subject myself to any long-form program FOX9 produces, so perhaps the fear-mongering there was more ignorant. (Though I heard Tom Lyden’s take at 9 p.m. was sufficiently nuanced.)

    I do think, though, it is hard to look at yesterday’s events and not assume they will help the Vikes stadium push and at least lead some to reason that the Dome is wearing out. Had the Vikes one more win and real playoff chances, the thought of losing the two final home games to neutral sites would seem far more costly.

    In the end, though, public opinion seems not to be swayed. The receptionist at our offices this morning theorized the Vikes executed a controlled demolition of the roof in hopes of enhancing their stadium effort.

  6. Submitted by Rick Ellis on 12/13/2010 - 11:37 am.

    Of course, the one side of the argument that is never articulated in new stadium discussions is the one that is most relevant to me. I’m not much of a professional sports fan (though I love local and minor-league sports), and because of that building a stadium is far down on my list of priorities.

    Sure, I think the Vikings will eventually get one, since fans don’t want to run the risk of losing the team. But whether we really *need* it or not is a different question.

    I think it would be fun for one of the local papers to run an occasional piece from someone who is sports impaired.

  7. Submitted by Carol Flynn on 12/13/2010 - 04:19 pm.

    Is the Dome still the only stadium that is paid for?

  8. Submitted by Stan Daniels on 12/13/2010 - 04:57 pm.

    Side note on the story. After the collapse, I saw a few national stories referring to the dome as the Mall of America. Seems there is some confusion about what the dome is and what the mall is nationally.

    Think that someone at Mall of America is wishing they didn’t plaster their name all over the thing?

    On the original post, there is obviously a lot of momentum is favor of a replacement stadium since the collapse. I really have no problem with the sports writers wanting the stadium. Something tells me the discussion will change once the state budget is cracked open and some far nastier issues are exposed.

  9. Submitted by David Stovall on 12/13/2010 - 06:58 pm.

    There is no confusion. The Metrodome is now known as the Mall of America Field. The Vikings rake in some extra dough for that naming right.

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