We’ve reached the point in the Vikings stadium question where the Vikings apparently decided it was time to issue the threat of leaving Minnesota. Since Zygi Wilf understands that people aren’t especially fond of blackmail, he outsourced the duty to an NFL guy with the perfect name for the job:
Eric Grubman, the executive vice president of NFL Ventures and business operations, said that the league was worried that if no deal was reached before the Vikings’ current lease expires next year, it could create a stalemate leading the team to consider “an alternative plan in another city.” Grubman urged Dayton and legislative leaders to build on recent momentum to reach a deal. “If the moment is now,” Grubman said, “… then let’s take this moment.”
Grubman — gotta love that. Send in the Grubman when it’s time to do the money grubbing. Oh, and by the way: nice little team you got there, Minnesota. Shame if anything happened to it. I must admit that I was impressed with the tailoring of Mr. Grubman’s suit — it concealed the rubber hose quite nicely.
In case the message wasn’t clear enough, Grubman also added an NFL-style version of a civics lesson by playing the “cold Omaha” card:
While Grubman tacitly acknowledged the sagging national economy, and the state’s government shutdown in July, he added that “we know our fans in a lot of markets are struggling. … [But] great cities are defined by the great institutions that they support.” He added: “People are attracted to cities — not for the traffic jams.”
Actually, sitting in the northbound lanes on 35W at Lake Street is a lot like watching the Vikings offense these days. It takes more brass than the USC marching band for Grubman to suggest the Vikings are a great institution, but he knows that the locals buy purple face paint by the 55-gallon drum. The Wilfs and their ahem, partners are counting on that loyalty to carry the day.
And in case you were thinking that the Los Angeles option isn’t real, Grubman offered this bon mot:
“To me, if I were a Minnesotan, any alternative other than Minnesota would be equally as bad,” he said.
Got the message? That Grubman is crazy, man. You don’t know what he’ll do. He’ll move the team to Wichita if that’s what it takes. He’s nuts and he’s serious. He’ll take your team away in the blink of a gimlet eye. You better pony up, rubes valued citizens of Minnesota.
So the question is out there. Do we build Zygi World in Arden Hills on the old ammo dump site? Or does the NFL drop the bomb? As much as we’ve all tried to pretend otherwise, I suspect we all knew this moment was coming. The NFL and the Wilfs are going to give Minnesota one chance to answer.