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It’s ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay’ today for stadium

Viking supporters pull out all the stops; weekend rain totals; gun sales booming in Wisconsin; blogger Bremer targets Bachmann fundraiser links; and more.

Today is the day. Or at least we expect it to be today.

At the fan site SB Nation Minnesota, Christopher Gates writes: “If the vote goes Minnesota’s way, then Viking fans from coast to coast and border to border will breathe a sigh of relief and know that their team dodged a pretty significant bullet. If it doesn’t go Minnesota’s way, there’s a very good chance that this will be the last season of NFL football in Minnesota. The Vikings have made it clear that they are not playing any longer in the Metrodome without a new stadium agreement in place. If this bill gets shot down, owner Zygi Wilf will likely either declare his intention to move the team, or he’ll put the team on the market and sell them to someone that will. In my perspective … and it pains me to say this … but if the Vikings leave Minnesota, the chances of the NFL coming back to Minnesota are somewhere between slim and none. No team that’s a candidate for relocation will move to Minnesota to play in the Metrodome, so there will have to be a new stadium built, likely at a significantly higher cost than the current plan calls for. In addition, with all of the acrimony that has marked the current set of stadium hearings, the NFL likely would not be in any hurry to attempt to negotiate anything with Minnesota again. Why would they be? Monday could be a new beginning for NFL football in the state of Minnesota. It could also be the beginning of the end. One way or another, Minnesota Vikings history will be made in St. Paul on Monday.”

The AP offers a cosmic view of the stadium choice, saying: “The Vikings are embroiled in a fight for a new stadium that may jeopardize the franchise’s 51-year tenure in Minnesota. And if you think that’s just a local story, think again. The situation could be a preview of showdowns in St. Louis, San Diego, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Oakland in the coming years. NFL officials have said repeatedly that the league isn’t interested in expansion, and with cities including Los Angeles and Toronto among those that could host a team, it creates a situation in which the threat of relocation will hang for some time over locations faced with franchise demands for a new stadium. … NFL vice president of business operations Eric Grubman recently said he has a list ‘longer than my arm of interested buyers in cities all over the place’ but named only Los Angeles and Toronto as viable markets for the league. Expansion doesn’t appear to be an alternative. … If deals aren’t worked out to stay, moving seems to be the alternative because the NFL’s 32-team structure has the advantage of competitively balanced schedules and division alignments. Plus, recent contract extensions with the over-the-air TV networks run through 2022; total revenue from CBS, Fox and NBC that year alone will be $3.1 billion. Another team or two would force the NFL to cut that lucrative pie into more pieces.”

An earlier AP story said:Fiscally conservative Republicans loathe the potential handout, but the party’s business wing wants to preserve a valuable asset in the city’s core. Democrats — especially the party’s labor base — crave the thousands of hardhat jobs that would come with a new stadium. The Vikings would have to kick in $427 million — which isn’t enough for some lawmakers. ‘I’m concerned about whether the owner is footing enough of the bill,’ said Sen. Julianne Ortman, the Senate’s deputy Republican leader. ‘I’m really concerned that what we’ve got is a minority partner in this project dictating the terms, wagging the dog if you will.’ … Some would-be opponents are tripped up by their fandom. Rep. Chris Swedzinksi, a Republican from rural southwestern Minnesota and a likely yes vote, said some of his most hard-right constituents want the stadium. He called it ‘a beast all on its own.’ ‘I’ve got folks that I know are active in the tea party that have said, you know, I’m going to suspend my rational thought right now, Chris,’ Swedzinski said. ‘I know what I believe and I know where this country’s headed if we continue down this path — but don’t lose the Vikings.’ ” But, just guessing here, single-payer health care would be a whole other kind of thing.

The Grand Forks Herald’s Tom Dennis is onboard for the stadium, big time: “Of all of the talk about the Vikings stadium, some of the most sensible has come from Twin Cities chief executives who are used to weighing costs and benefits, looking down the road on behalf of their businesses and making complex decisions. Ecolab CEO Doug Baker and U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis spoke last month to columnist Lori Sturdevant of the Star Tribune. Their words are worth coming back to today, now that a Vikings stadium deal is coming up for a vote, and the margin is likely to be close — it’s ‘fourth and inches,’ as the Associated Press put it. As lawmakers from northwestern Minnesota make up their minds, they should give special weight to the thoughts of Baker, Davis and others in the Minnesota business community. That’s because these executives’ only ideology is to figure out what’s best for Minnesota’s economy, business climate and civic health. … [Said Davis:] ‘I can’t put a dollar amount around it. I can’t say that the world will fall apart if we don’t have an NFL franchise here two years from now. But it will be a lot less attractive and a lot less easy to brag about the headquarters being in one of the great American cities.’ ” So … even a top banker “can’t put a dollar figure on it”?

At the union website workdayMinnesota, Barb Kucera writes: “Buoyed by a rally that featured former Minnesota Vikings running back Chuck Foreman, union members plan to jam the state Capitol Monday as legislators decide whether to fund stadium and bonding bills that would create thousands of jobs. The measures — one to build and repair the state’s infrastructure and another to finance construction of a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis — are scheduled to receive votes on the House floor Monday, according to House Speaker Kurt Zellers.”

On practically every page in every section over the weekend, the Strib was hyping the stadium. Sid … Hartman naturally led the way. A couple of classic lines: “[Ted] Mondale had an important point when he said, ‘When you let an NFL franchise go, you look like a B-class city,’ adding: ‘At the end of the day, of the money that the state would be putting in, with no new taxes, the state would be putting in the equivalent of $398 million. The state will make a profit on that over the 30 years of $144 million. It’s a 36 percent profit on your investment. I mean, if you can’t do that, what’s a good way to spend money?’ I agree with Mondale that there are so many upsides to getting this stadium built besides getting some 700 workers back on a job. … And a note to Gov. Dayton: There has to be a way where you give in on some bills to the Republicans and they give in to you on the stadium. I’m sure the Republicans, led by House Speaker Kurt Zellers, will negotiate, and everybody can come out happy by bringing the greatest thing for Minnesota, resulting in not only keeping the Vikings here but so many other positives as well. Ask the politicians in other NFL cities how much their communities have benefited by building a covered stadium, with providing a modern home for their football teams just a small part of it.” Heck, everyone I know is booking summer vacations to Indianapolis.

And yes, that was a lot of rain over the weekend: 2.31 inches at the airport Saturday night. Here’s a NOAA map and AccuWeather data.

The AP also has a story about gun sales are booming (sorry) in Wisconsin: ” ‘It’s incredible,” said Steve Lauer, owner of Lauer Custom Weaponry, which manufactures firearms, firearm coatings and accessories in Chippewa Falls. “We can hardly keep up.”
Exact figures on firearms sales don’t exist, but based on the number of calls made to the FBI and Wisconsin Department of Justice for background checks related to firearms purchases, more guns are being sold this year than ever … The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the nation’s most prominent gun-control organizations, said higher household gun ownership ‘correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.’ The Brady Campaign also said ‘the percentage of American households with a gun has been steadily declining over time’ and that gun sales are concentrated among people who already own guns. Regardless, the renewed interest in guns has been good for arms-related businesses across Wisconsin.”

At the Ripple in Stillwater blog, Karl Bremer notes the coincidence of Michele Bachmann linking up with Mitt Romney just as charity fraudster “Bobby Thompson” was nabbed out in Oregon: “The same week the fugitive and big-spending Republican Party contributor-on-the-lam known as ‘Bobby Thompson’ was captured in Portland, OR, by federal marshals after a nationwide manhunt, one of the recipients of ‘Thompson’s’ largesse, Michele Bachmann, endorsed another — Mitt Romney — for president. Coincidence — or an attempt by the now-amorous politicians to divert attention from their connection to what may be one of the largest charity scams in U.S. history? ‘Thompson’ donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and Republican Party entities, all of it suspected to be skimmed from his fraudulent charity, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.  He donated $10,000 to Michele Bachmann’s congressional campaign in 2010 and $2,300 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2007. In an attempt to wash her hands of the dirty money in the glare of unwelcome publicity over the donation, Bachmann donated her campaign’s share of the donation to two legitimate veterans’ organizations. The Republican Party of Minnesota kept their share of the donation from ‘Thompson.’ ” We think it’s a coincidence, of course. But the guy was a loyal supporter.