Monday, April 23, 2012

The Lost Vikings?

     Minnesota Vikings football has been a iconic staple of the North Star state. They remember the earlier days from Fran Tarkenton to Herschel Walker (A trade that Vikings fans would love to forget). They've hated Brett Favre, then they embraced Brett Favre. 1998 was a year to remember for the Vikings, as they went 15-1 and made it all the way to the NFC Championship game. They know who Dennis Green was before "They are who we thought they were! And we let 'em off the hook!!" They dress up like barbarians in Helga hats and play the Gjallarhorn every time the Vikings score a touchdown or get a first down. The nickname 'Vikings' is derived from Minnesota's large population of Scandinavian ancestry.
     But today, football in Minnesota is being threatened by a Metrodome lease that expires next year. There has been talks of the Vikings possibly moving to Los Angeles, but this wouldn't even be the first purple-and-gold squad that the Land of 10,000 Lakes has lost to L.A. The Lakers moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis before the 1960-1961 season due to struggles financially.
     Even the passing of a bill to build a stadium has Minnesota fans worried. On Saturday, Minnesota's Senate committee approved a bill for a public subsidy by a 8-6 vote to help the Vikings build a new stadium in Minneapolis, though it is noteworthy that Vikings officials weren't present. That includes owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. The proposed stadium is said to cost up to $975 million. The Vikings would pay $427 million for construction costs while city and state taxpayers would pay 56% ($548 million) of the total cost. The closeness of the Senate committee's vote raised concerns for lawmakers because some senators were wary of expanding the gambling that is a part of the proposal's funding package.
     Now what if the Vikings fail to build a new stadium by the end of the year and move to Los Angeles? For starters, they would have to swap divisions with the St. Louis Rams. Considering the sheer competitive dominance compared to the NFC West, this would benefit the Vikings a lot more than the Rams. But I could see a great division rivalry brewing between the Rams and the Bears. Same goes for the 49ers and the Vikings. Now here's the catch: Farmer's Field isn't going to be ready until 2016. So where would the Vikings play in LA? There's the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and there's the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. But the Coliseum would need extensive renovations because it was built long before club seats and sky boxes were around. If this were to happen, it would lose its status as a National Historical Landmark like Chicago's Soldier Field did in 2002.
     In my opinion, I can understand both sides. Vikings football has been a staple in Minnesotan culture for decades, while relocating to Los Angeles means moving to a much bigger sports market. Plus, LA fans are a lot more passionate than you think. I mean, who riots after their team WINS a championship rather than lose a championship? Certainly not Vancouver. But you'd also lose one of the best rivalries in football between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. No person from Minnesota ever wants to cheer for a team in Green Bay. I'd like to see the Vikings stay in Minneapolis because they have a much more passionate NFL fan base than the fan base in Los Angeles. But if appealing to a bigger market is what Roger Goodell wants, then I say, "Go ahead". After all, Marie Antoinette once said, "Let them eat cake!" Or in this case, "Let them eat Cheeseheads!"

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