Watson: New stadium, new hope

Scott Watson

It was a disgusting spectacle. The living room was awash of stoic, disbelieving fanatics in purple and white jerseys, as my Minnesota Vikings crazed friends and I watched “our season” come to a close in the heart-wrenching 2009 NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints. For a moment, the earth stood still as we refused to believe the universe could be so unjust as to deny our team their first Super Bowl appearance of our lifetimes.

We felt robbed, terrible calls were made and missed, the malevolent Saints’ defense beat and battered our players with cheap shots all night, receiving no empathy from the refs. But this is Viking football; we are used to disappointments, and we are used to fighting through adversity.

It’s not as though our beloved organization is the utmost priority of the league, struggling to break the $200 million revenue mark with the rest of the teams, analysts, commissioners and sponsors often have their eyes and pocket books on higher earning teams. The Vikings compete with significantly fewer resources than many of its rivals, requiring creative handling by owners and managers.

Due to this fiscal hindrance, the franchise has been on the chopping block for several years as one of the most likely franchises to be sold to another, more financially sustaining city.

The Viking’s stadium, dubbed at its creation nearly 30 years ago as the “Metrodome,” has been plagued with roof collapses and flooding and is regarded as one of the worst stadiums in the NFL. For disciples of Viking football, this has been a heavy topic of debate; particularly in the last year, a $20 million roof repair made talks of franchise re-location very serious.

Franchise owners, Minneapolis community leaders and other financial investors in the professional Minnesota team have discussed and agreed upon a decision to build a new stadium. The passed notion will keep the Vikings in their rightful place: Minnesota. Still, the decision to build essentially came down to a decision to keep another mediocre but occasionally competitive, financially strapped, professional Minnesota athletics team or not.

Building a new stadium will be no small undertaking, costing the state $348 million. Naturally, the decision was not taken lightly, and many disagreements were surely had; no doubt many are still wondering if these are noble actions rooted in state pride and returns on investment or the foolish splurging of the wealthy and the vested, in an attempt to appease their own pride.

The Metrodome, built for $33 million by the state 27 years ago, has earned $320 million in taxed revenue, easily paying for itself. It should also be noted that this number does not include the millions earned in taxes from the streams of opposing rivals and their fans to hotels, restaurants and other basic traveling expenses. It is expected that 90 percent of the materials used to build the new stadium will come from Minnesota herself, pay $300 million in construction wages and support 13,000 construction jobs.

This will be an enormous undertaking for the state with a high cost but also a high reward for now and years to come.

A new stadium means increased attraction and increased yearly profits. It could be the difference between a self-sustaining, successful organization like that of the Green Bay Packers and the decrepit, “losing to win” strategy of the Detroit Lions. Granted, a stadium is not what solely makes or breaks a team, but it merits longevity, permitting long-term, secure investments to be made in the Viking’s franchise.

If Minnesota did not build a new stadium, the Vikings would have undoubtedly been relocated to Los Angeles, making it the third professional football team to grace California. Minnesota can support winning franchises; they only need to be handled properly and to receive the same local support of other winning franchises to be successful.

Success perpetuates more success; I am an adamant believer that the ’09 NFC Championship appearance earned the franchise a new stadium, keeping the Vikings in Minnesota. With more success will come more success; the stadium is on its way, people are talking and money is moving. Keep your eyes on Viking football; the hour is nigh for success as a newly built team meets a newly constructed stadium and newly restored confidence finds its way to a team in need of just that.