On Oct. 15, as I came up the off ramp from 35E at the Maryland Avenue exit, I saw standing near the traffic lights an older man with a large beard wearing weathered clothes holding up a cardboard sign begging for work and food. Then, on Oct. 29, I saw a young man and a woman holding up signs about a “family in need” as I got off I-94 at Lexington Parkway.
Whether these people were honest or selling a sob story is not the point. The point is this: With people begging on the streets of Minnesota’s capital, the Minnesota Vikings have a lot of nerve to be pestering Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature for money when there are people who would not mind a cut from $1.1 billion in this “freeze wages, raise prices higher, make people homeless” day and age.
Why on earth does a professional sports team’s needs matter more than those of the people? Just what is Dayton thinking? Is somebody with a vested interest in the Vikings bribing him to pursue this project or something? Come on.
Don’t try to soft soap me with “This stadium will create jobs!” Correction: It will create construction jobs. And if the Arden Hills site falls into the Vikings hot little hands, environmental cleanup jobs. Nobody who would get a regular job at a new stadium could live off of those wages alone.
What about the Lake Minnetonka cruise?
The thing that floors me most is how the infamous Oct. 6, 2005, Lake Minnetonka cruise scandal has been forgotten. In my opinion, the team showed their true colors that night as nothing but a bunch of sleazy, womanizing, morally bankrupt spoiled rich people. Sure, the attorney for the company that chartered the boats to the team, Stephen Doyle, claimed not all players acted inappropriately and also claimed no drugs or minors were involved. If you believe that, then there’s a bridge for sale in Brooklyn, too.
What is more, two former Vikings told Sports Illustrated that that cruise was not the first time the team had engaged in public indecency on the lake. One even went so far as to say “That [expletive]’s been going on every year, and every year it has escalated.”
Yeah, I know there hasn’t been another scandal since, and if that is the case, we don’t have to worry about any more wild party problems, right? Wrong. Nobody has given a guarantee the Vikings won’t get caught at that again.
All this means this question needs to be asked loud and clear: “And these are the type of people who want us to give them millions of dollars to for a stadium?!” For all we know, their next scandalous bash will be held there.
And what about North Minneapolis?
I am also horrified by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s seeming utter lack of concern for repairing damage done in the north side of his city by the May 22 tornado as he desperately tries to keep the team in his city.
Yes, the Minnesota Housing Board has released $750,000 to help pay for house repairs, but the odds are that won’t be enough, especially with Old Man Winter right on us. And yet, it seems to be just “Keep the Vikes! Keep the Vikes! Keep the Vikes!” on Rybak’s priority list with not much of anything about his addressing the needs of the storm-torn north side of his city making the news as of late. Why?
C’mon, Mr. Mayor, make sure those neighborhoods are going to get fixed up by winter before running around trying to convince rich dudes to keep their spoiled rich-kid team in town.
“From day one I have promised that I would keep the team here in Minnesota forever,” owner Zygi Wilf claims. Well Zygi, I don’t care. If you ask me, take your team and get lost come February. We’ve got more pressing needs to address in this state.
Richard Held is a local writer. He blogs for Klat.com under the pen name “richardwrite31.”