The NFL’s top bosses delivered a “reality check” to Minnesota’s elected representatives. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reports, “By all accounts, Minnesota’s political leaders received a clear message Friday morning in a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers President/co-owner Art Rooney. ‘This is it, folks,’ Gov. Mark Dayton said during a post-meeting news conference. ‘They served us a reality check,’ state Sen. Julie Rosen said. ‘Things will have to be moving a little bit more quickly,’ House Speaker Kurt Zellers said. ‘The writing is on the wall,’ Dayton added. Legislators from both houses and parties emerged with clear marching orders: Revive a stadium bill that died in a committee earlier this week or face the departure of the franchise. Goodell said he made ‘no implied threats or any threats at all,’ but in reality he didn’t need to.” Which part of this reflects favorably on our people?
No threats, you understand. Just a couple of equal partners seeking a path forward … . Mike Kaszuba and Jim Ragsdale’s Strib story on the visit of Goodell says, “The meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders from both parties followed a Thursday telephone call in which NFL officials told Dayton it was urgent to resolve the stadium issue this spring. … Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, said Goodell’s arrival in Minnesota ‘elevates this whole issue.’ The senator said he believes ‘the Vikings are probably going to be around for another year or so,’ but added that, ‘I don’t think we can forget about St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles [and] Oakland.’ Those cities have lost NFL teams over the years. …”
At NBC Sports Mike Florio offers a handy-dandy 10-point guide to what you need to know about the Vikings and their stadium issue. Among them:
“What’s wrong with the Metrodome?
It has been regarded as a given for years that the Metrodome is outdated, and that it can’t be modernized in a manner that unlocks the high-end revenue streams that will keep the Vikings competitive with other franchises. Even though the Vikings have used the 30-year-old stadium roughly 300 times, the team believes that renovation isn’t an option. No effort to contradict that claim has ever gained any serious traction in Minnesota. …
“Why have the Vikings suddenly become so aggressive about possibly moving?
The Vikings had practiced patience for years. Some think that the “Minnesota Nice” approach was selected under the theory that it would work better than a more blunt, matter-of-fact, anti-Field of Dreams ‘if you don’t build it, we will leave’ strategy. Others believe the Vikings simply wanted the media to do the team’s dirty work, reading the tea leaves and supplying the ‘or else’ without the team having to do it. …
“Why does the NFL build new stadiums with public money?
Because it can.
Some call it leverage. Others call it extortion. As NFL executive V.P. Eric Grubman told PFT Live on Thursday, the league regards it as competition.
Regardless, if one place won’t kick in significant public money to keep the NFL, someone else will kick in significant public money to get the NFL, either directly through cash contributions or indirectly through tax credits and other incentives. …”
And while our local media is in there pitching for the NFL, it might be helpful to consider that the Vikings don’t have a smooth and lucrative straight shot to Los Angeles. At Forbes, Mike Ozanian writes, “Why is the NFL pushing so hard for taxpayers to pony up? After all, Goodell didn’t browbeat politicians in New Jersey for public financing for New York‘s $1.6 billion stadium, which was financed by the owners of the Giants and Jets. And as the table below shows, the 54% contribution by Minnesota’s taxpayers would far exceed all but three of the last 10 NFL stadiums. But the stadium outcome in Minnesota is about much more than the Vikings. The fact is the league wants to expand and would get much more (probably in excess of $1 billion) for new team in Los Angeles that it would get from Wilf as a relocation fee (maybe $200 million) to move the Vikings to L.A. Expansion and relocation money is divvied up among the league’s owners, so an $800 million difference would amount to $25 million per team. Goodell is fighting to get that dough for his bosses.” In there is what business people call “leverage.”
Earlier this week GOP Sen. Dave Thompson said, without any evident irony, that his party’s Voter ID legislation was the “marquee” achievement of this year’s session. He may have overlooked beer at Gopher football games. The AP says, “A measure that could satisfy some fans’ thirst for beer at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium is halfway to Gov. Mark Dayton. The Senate voted 55-3 for a liquor law change Friday. The House is likely to vote soon on the liquor bill. The bill would grant the university a stadium liquor license if alcohol sales are open to the general public. Democratic Rep. Joe Atkins says it could lead to a beer garden at the stadium’s open west end.” Now THAT is your Legislature at work.
The private contractor handling the state’s park reservations system might make $600,000 this year if it stays (computer) bug free. Steve Karnowski of the AP writes, “ … the new system from US eDirect Inc. crashed when it went live March 1, overwhelmed by more visitors in its first hour than it had been designed to handle in a full day. The failure frustrated Minnesotans looking to book their summer getaways and required a month to put right. … Yet despite the early headaches, Nelson said the system has been working well since a beefed-up version became fully operational April 2. And the state is more likely to recoup some money from the vendor than lose any money from the rough launch. Documents reviewed by The Associated Press under the state’s Data Practices Act show US eDirect will earn almost all its money from fees charged to system users. That’s projected to approach $600,000 this year.”
GOP Rep. Mary Franson continues to be unhappy with all this Earth(y) stuff. Says Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib, “The Minnesota House opening prayer and state Rep. Mary Franson are stirring controversy again. The Republican from Alexandria said on Twitter Friday morning that the opening homily from House chaplain Rev. Grady St. Dennis ‘may as well been dedicated to ‘Mother Earth,’ coincidence? I think not. 2nd offensive prayer in a month.’
Check Stassen-Berger’s story for the entire prayer, which ends:
‘… We pray for the ability to take care of your creation above our own needs, recognizing we have struggled to be good stewards. Continue to teach us how to care for your world and to be stewards of your creation. Amen.’ “
What’s the problem? Not enough God? Or the complete absence of guns and gays?
And still churning out legislation destined for the veto heap … the AP reports, “The Minnesota House has sent Gov. Mark Dayton a bill to require abortion facilities to pay license fees and undergo inspections. … The bill would have facilities that perform more than 10 abortions per month pay a $3,712 annual license fee and undergo inspections up to two times per year by the commissioner of health. Backers say it’s needed oversight of invasive procedures. Critics argue it singles out abortion facilities over other clinics and creates barriers to abortions. The Department of Health says that clinics in the state are not licensed, but doctors and nurses at the facilities are. Dayton, who supports abortion rights, is not expected to sign the bill.”
After spending three hours in the sterile waiting room that is Atlanta’s Hartsfield, I will agree with this survey from “Travel & Leisure’ magazine. “The readers of “Travel + Leisure” magazine say Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is the best airport in America. In its first airport survey, the magazine asked readers to rate America’s 22 major airports in the following categories: flight delays; design; amenities; food and drink; check-in and security; service; and transportation and location. ‘The best-scoring airports have tackled these issues head-on, refurbishing terminals and adding amenities that make the worst airports look evermore outdated by comparison’, according to the magazine, which published the results in its April issue. Minneapolis was described as possibly the ‘cheeriest and most welcoming airport in the nation’ by the magazine. It took the No. 1 spot for its easy check-in and security process. It earned second place for design and cleanliness, baggage handling, staff communication and airport location. The airport ranked 11th for its Wi-Fi offerings.” Oh yeah, the wi-fi is bad … .