Politics threatening the Vikings chances for new stadium

Over the last three years, politicians, Senators and Governors have come and gone. But the one constant has been that Republicans and Democrats support and oppose the Vikings stadium equally. Recently, the Vikings stadium issue has been more political than ever, and the ripple effect can have serious implications on the team’s chances of staying in Minnesota.

This fall the stadium issue was gaining steam in the Senate. Proof of this is the two public hearings that Senator Julianne Ortman pulled together in late November and early December. Progress, albeit small, was being made.

In Early November SavetheVikes.org had both Senator Rosen and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch stop by our tailgate party on their way to the Vikings game to take a closer look at the stadium situation. The Director of Senate Communications and former MNGOP Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb also was present and active in moving the stadium drive forward.

Weeks later, both Koch and Brodkorb were forced to resign and it was rumored to be forced by stadium opponents (most likely Republicans) who had compromising information, according to several sources. These two carried a lot of water for our cause over the last few months. We are sorry to see them go.

Just as the Senate Majority Leader position hangs in the balance, the fate of the Vikings in Minnesota hangs with it. On December 27th, the Republican Senate Caucus is set to vote on a new Majority Leader – effectively making it the first vote on the Vikings stadium.

Vote in Geoff Michel, David Senjem, Julianne Ortman or Joe Gimse as the new Senate Majority Leader and the Vikings stand a chance. If the Senate Caucus elects David Hann or Dave Thompson, you can kiss the Vikings chances in Minnesota goodbye.

It is critical that Vikings fans connect and meet with their Senator as soon as possible and express their desire to see a Majority Leader elected that will lead on the stadium issue. Fans can find their Senator’s contact information here.

Race to watch: MNGOP Chairman

On December 31st, Republicans from across the state will converge on St. Cloud to vote on who they want to replace Tony Sutton as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Sutton resigned abruptly just before the Republican State Central Convention.

It appears there are two realistic candidates that could get the job.

The first is Kelly Fenton who was appointed Deputy Chair of the Republican Party after Michael Brodkorb resigned in October. If you follow @SavetheVikesOrg closely on twitter, you have most likely seen some heated exchanges between Merrifield and Fenton as she is no friend to the Vikings Stadium issue or our friends at RacinoNow!

The second is Mike Osskopp who currently is District Director of Congressman John Kline and former State Representative from Lakeville. Sitting squarely in his Congressional district is Canterbury Park which helps explain why Racino Lobbyists consider him their favorite, and why we consider him our favorite.

House Rake

Assuming the Vikings Stadium navigates the before mentioned political pit falls successfully, we can get right back to where we were two months ago: With Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and his House Majority Leader Matt Dean unwilling to lead on a Vikings stadium and unsupportive of Racino for a Vikings stadium. (There is your retraction, Dean)

If Zellers has his way, the stadium won’t see a vote until after the 2012 elections which pushes a stadium solution into 2013 and up’s the price by $100 million. By then, the Vikings are already working on their tans and shopping on Rodeo Drive.

What roadblock will Zellers put up next? SavetheVikes.org Founder Cory Merrifield discussed that with Michele Tafoya recently on her stadium radio special. She later asked WCCO Political Reporter Pat Kessler the same question.

Zellers was the state leader who said we need to have public hearings and vet out the sites before we move forward. The hearings on site location and stadium financing are done and the Vikings will have given Minneapolis everything they need to narrow down their three sites to one, by the end of December.

We hope Zellers has exhausted all of his places to hide from the issue now that we have a State budget surplus and a plan gaining momentum to accelerate payments back to schools.

To be fair, we should have dialed back our expectations of Republican leadership and the Democratic Governor. The previous Democratic Legislature and Republican Governor accomplished exactly zero when it came to a Vikings stadium, and they had eight years. The Democratic majority did however pass a Twins stadium bill and a bill for the University of Minnesota, TCF Bank stadium. For all the claims that Republicans would help create jobs, they have fumbled the ball on the 10,000 jobs the Vikings stadium create – all while the Jack Asses sit back and watch the Elephants cannibalize each other.

The Pace of a Mule

To date, Paul Thissen who as the DFL House Minority Leader is responsible for the cares and concerns of the local Union Leaders, has done precisely nothing to put hard hats back on the job and help move the stadium drive forward. 

In fact, very few Democrat’s have been willing to roll up their sleeves on the stadium issue, except Governor Dayton and one other, Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk.

Bakk, who carried the Vikings bill in the Senate as the previous DFL Majority Leader was the only leader to vote for a stadium Special Session back in November when Governor Dayton called Zellers, Koch, Thissen and Bakk on the carpet.  Zellers and Thissen both exclaimed they didn’t have the votes.

In order for the Vikings to get a stadium bill, it has to be a bi-partisan effort and will need Democratic votes. The Republicans simply will not carry it on their own. Governor Dayton had a great quote that sums up where we are at, “We have too many Legislators that are thinking about one job, their own, instead of creating thousands for others.”

With only twelve days left on the Vikings lease, please contact your lawmaker and ask them to reach across the aisle and work hard to get the stadium deal done, keeping the Vikings in Minnesota!

About the Author

Founder and author of SavetheVikes.org. Born and raised in MN, Cory has been a lifelong Vikings fan. Season ticket holder, stop by and see him in section 218! cory.merrifield@savethevikes.org