In all of the political mumbo jumbo that has dominated the stadium debate, one of the primary things that has been missed is the impact that the Vikings have on the residents of Minnesota.
In an effort to promote that aspect of the Vikings’ relationship to their fans, a video highlighting the emotional connection between the state and the Vikings has been put out to make an impression. To this point, most fans have heard the politicians huffing and puffing about actually investing in a sports franchise. It seems about time the actual value of the Vikings is being promoted.
The Vikings official website has provided a 90-second video explaining its position on the reason for keeping the Vikings in Minnesota. It has nothing to do with Mark Dayton, Zygi Wilf, Amy Koch, Ted Mondale, Tim Pawlenty or new Mexican citizen Jesse Ventura. It has to do with the visceral reaction Vikings fans have.
As the Vikings have their bye week, it seems only fitting that the “Stadium Solution” video comes at a time when Minnesota could find itself on a permanent bye week as far as the NFL is concerned.
Some will contend this is nothing more than Vikings propaganda, but as the video states, being a Vikings fans is a “passion passed from generation to generation.” To be honest, it’s a free passion. Later in the same video, it states that 2 million Minnesotans gather on Sundays to celebrate being Vikings fans.
It’s an interesting take. Critics will say it’s like a Hallmark card commercial that tries to bring a tear to the eye. To those critics, I would counter that some of the best times I ever had with my dad were during Vikings games. I never saw my Pops more emotional than when Ahmad Rashad made “The Catch” to put the Vikings in the playoffs. Spontaneous hugs carry significant memories decades later. Looks like I’m in the demographic intended for the video.
So, it would seem, are deer hunters. I have several friends who deer hunt and I never realized how many of them would leave their deer stands to get to a TV by noon Sunday to watch the Vikings. I was informed over the last couple of weeks, that, without the Vikings today, almost every deer hunter that hasn’t already filled his or her deer tag will remain in the fields Sunday afternoon. Why? According to the general consensus, there is “nothing better to do.”
The promo spot also hit upon the charitable nature of the Vikings. When the CEO of Pillsbury goes to the pediatric cancer unit at the U of M hospital, do dying kids get excited? No. If Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin or Jared Allen shows up for a visit, a kid who might not live long enough to be an adult will have a good day. The Legislature can’t put a price tag on that. If they do, their $300 million contribution to a stadium would be seriously cut into, because how much value does one place on a smile and a good day for a child who was dealt a bad hand?
The promo wasn’t without some legitimate propaganda, highlighted by the inclusion that 7,000 jobs would be created and “$300 million in wages” would be created by those jobs. I have no proof one way or the other to the veracity of that statement, but it rings true. That’s the entire state investment that would be covered in wages, a portion of which gets taxed back to the state. The rest of that money will be recycled locally and the circle of economic life continues.
The rapid-fire jump cuts of images are a filmmaking staple. In the span of 10 seconds, the video shows multiple uses that, if the stadium is built, will pay for the building 10-fold. In that whirl of events that potentially will be housed at the new stadium, images were seen of the Vikings, high school football, an NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament, a Super Bowl, a concert from The Who (there may be a need to speed up the stadium timetable if we want to see The Who standing on their own – or the Rolling Stones Steel Wheelchair Tour). World Cup Soccer was also included.
The State of Minnesota has avoided paying for a stadium with the consistency of a Deadbeat Dad. They can make all the denials they want. The message of the Vikings stadium solution promo is effective. Like it or not, the Vikings have been involved in the fabric of Minnesota life for 51 years.
You get the feeling that, while the Vikings ad may not win a Clio Award, it accurately expresses the point of view of millions of people – from those praying that a longwinded minister will “wrap things up” to those who ascribe to the “hair of the dog” theory to erase the memory of a late Saturday night and get back on the 12-ounce wrist-curls Sunday. All of those people vote and, while opponents to an issue tend to bark louder than those advocating an issue, the ad does bring home a solid issue that those involved in the Vikings saga should pay attention to.
The first running back for the Vikings I remember was Chuck Foreman. My dad preferred Dave Osborn and Bill Brown. We argued the point for hours (and hour and hours). He was “senile and out of touch with the current NFL.” I was “a punk kid who should know better.” Standing up to my dad was a rite of passage for a man cub in my family. My defiance to throw Foreman under the bus was a Tiananmen Square moment in my childhood. The Vikings unintentionally provided that.
I’d love to know my Dad’s impression of Adrian Peterson. I really would. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. I’d hate to think that some kid whose dad is a Vikings fan won’t be able to have the same argument as I did as a punk kid dealing with an out of touch relic from an NFL era gone by. As time goes by, I remember less and less about my dad. I still remember our mutual love of football and, by extension, the Vikings.
Critics of the Stadium Solution ad will say it’s slick Madison Avenue stuff that the Wilfs whipped up. Was it well done? Definitely. Did it promote a point of view? Most certainly. But, much better than the Mom and apple pie political ads, it reached to the heart of the issue when it comes to the Vikings. Players come and go, but the Vikings are family in Minnesota.
Enjoy the bye weekend. Or get used to it.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.