Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Los Angeles Vikings?

This news snippet fell under the Minnesota Vikings heading on my Yahoo home page today. Don't worry, it's nothing to get too excited about -- the team isn't going anywhere just yet. Rather, the Vikings were tossed out as a possible candidate for relocation to L.A. (along with the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Diego Chargers, three other cities with "stadium uncertainties"). Still, Minnesota has already lost one pro sports team to the City of Angels, and, when the Metrodome lease expires after 2011, and with plans for a new stadium in limbo, where will the Vikings play?

Unlike former owner Red McCombs, Zygi Wilf has made no noise about moving the team, though he clearly still expects public money to go to the funding of a new stadium. At the end of the day, Wilf's a businessman, and if he can't get the deal he wants in Minnesota, he'll likely look elsewhere or sell the team to a party that can find the Vikings a new home.

That brings us to Edward P. Roski, Jr., the developer mentioned in the Los Angeles article, who says he can construct a stadium in L.A. -- shock of shocks! -- without taxpayer's money. It would be interesting to see how that holds up once the delays and cost overruns that accompany virtually any construction of this magnitude hit, but his bold statements have certainly gotten people's attention. And, as quiet as the NFL has been publicly on the front of putting a team in Los Angeles (content instead to play regular-season games in England and Canada), there's no doubt that a pro team in the nation's #2 most-populated market is on Roger Goodell's wish list.

Roski aside, it's a pipe dream to think that any pro sports owner will ever again foot the bill for a new stadium completely out of his own pocket. If the Vikings want a new stadium, fans will have to pay for it. It's easy for me to sit here -- in Charlotte, N.C. -- and say, "Let's build a new stadium in Minnesota." It's not my tax dollars that are going to pay for it. And I'd wager that about 90% of the comments on similar "Should the stadium be built with taxpayer money?" posts online are some variation of "Just get it done!" without any thought to the financial consequences.

On the other hand, even if the team doesn't move into its privately funded L.A. stadium, there will likely be other cities out there in the next couple years who would be willing to raise taxes to get a professional football team if Minnesota's citizens don't step up to the plate. It's a catch-22 that every city puts itself in when it couples itself with a pro sports franchise. Eventually, that franchise is going to want a new stadium, and the choices are either pay up (and tick off the citizens) or let the team go (and tick off the citizens). The Metrodome, hideous as it is, is only 26 years old. The Twins are leaving and so soon will (probably) the Vikings. Will we go through this again in another few decades?

Of the other three teams mentioned above, Jacksonville would, I think, be the best fit for a move to L.A. As I've previously brought up, the Jaguars' fan base is nearly nonexistent, and that's a waste for such a good team. (Side note: If I put "JacksonvilleJaguars" as a tag, do you think I'll get the same reaction as the last time I included the "GreenBayPackers" tag?) If the Vikings do move to L.A., though, it would be a tough pill to swallow. Then again, maybe the NFL could pull a Cleveland and ship the Vikings to L.A. and the Jaguars to Minnesota a year or two later...

Hey, it can't hurt to have a contingency plan, can it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no no no i dont want no dang jaguars and la to have the purple people eaters there mine u cant have them LA u already took our lakers and made them winners were making these guys a winner on our own.