On the same day one of the Twin Cities newspapers had a Page 1 headline claiming the urgency to get a stadium deal done in Minneapolis for this Legislative session is losing steam, the Vikings made it clear they won't exercise their option to discuss the potential of relocating.
The deadline for the Vikings to officially file the paperwork with the NFL league office in New York, opening the door to "light-of-day" discussions with other cities (like Los Angeles), is today. On Tuesday, Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of stadium development, made official what many of us have speculated – they won't be filing any paperwork.
Citing momentum to getting the needed plurality of political opinion to approve a stadium bill, Bagley told The Associated Press that there is no point to filing paperwork, because it could potentially slow the momentum that has been building toward a stadium solution.
In the short-term, the announcement means that the Vikings will play the 2012 season in Minnesota – it should be noted that we didn't say at the Metrodome, but in Minnesota.
While the Vikings aren't going anywhere (this year), the critical decision still needs to be made where and how a potential new stadium adjacent stadium would be built? If the proposal that calls for tearing down the Metrodome this year is passed – an idea summarily rejected by both the Vikings and the NFL, since it would force the team to play three years at TCF Bank Stadium – that process would likely begin almost immediately. If a stadium funding bill is passed, it would behoove all those in positions of getting something done to start the process ASAP. Every year of delays is estimated to increase costs about $40 million.
If the construction can be done to force the Vikings to The Bank for just one year (or less), that would be the preferred option. If the approval is for a much-needed demolition of the Metrodome (the roof got the process started 14 months ago), the move to The Bank would start this year. Welcome to the unexpected return of outdoor football in Minnesota.
As the Vikings begin their preparation for the free-agent period and the tough roster decisions that will need to be made for the sake of the salary cap, they likely are doing so with two plans in place. One plan is for a brief respite from indoor climate-controlled football. The other is with the anticipation of three years of outdoor football, which could alter the type of player the Vikings go after in free agency.
Today's deadline with the NFL is going to come and go without the Vikings exercising the one hammer they have in the stadium debate – the ability to start dating other cities. But, the team may be breaking new ground in respect to not knowing where they will play in 2012 and beyond – even if they don't leave.
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.