Last month, there was much rejoicing and waving as Minnesota was declared off the market for Los Angeles when a new stadium proposal was announced. At the time, I said that the bill did not eliminate a move to Los Angeles yet, calling the announcement a political move to “put pressure on the legislature.”
The legislature has responded to that by, well, not going along with it. Last night, a Minnesota state house panel rejected the public subsidy package, with only two weeks left in this legislative session. That stadium proposal that involved a split of costs between the team and public subsidies is now on life support. Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley told reporters after the vote that “[i]t’s a mistake to think the Vikings and the [National Football League] will continue with the status quo.”
So the veiled threats of change with a move to Los Angeles begin in earnest. Things are going to get ugly in the North. It will be eighteen seasons since Los Angeles has had a football team. As Brian Burke pointed out two years ago, the threat of Los Angeles for the league may be better than having a team there, for extracting public funding for other teams. However, the climate has changed from a decade ago in regard to public funding. That’s why I talked about Goodell trying to create London as another credible threat for relocation to spur action. Eventually, a municipality, perhaps Minnesota, will say no for good. But there are at least three in Jacksonville, Minnesota and St. Louis, plus the teams playing in the oldest stadiums in other cities in California, who would like to use it as a threat. If that threat is eliminated by one team actually moving there, we will see the public funding issue tighten up even more. I’m not sure politicians are going to cave with London calling as the only purported legitimate threat.
So, look for this Minnesota situation to escalate–to get to the front of the line using Los Angeles as a chip–very quickly. Wilf doesn’t want to be left threatening a move to Portland.
[photo via US Presswire]