Is Obama more important than Favre in the Minnesota Vikings future?
By Evan Weiner
January 24, 2010
(New York, N. Y.) -- Will Brett Favre or Barack Obama, when all is said and done, be more important in both the short and long term future of Zygi Wilf’s Minnesota Vikings franchise? It is an intriguing question because Favre’s short term success with the Minneapolis-based team probably has no impact on the business of football and the business of football for Wilf and his predecessor Red McCombs (one of the people who owned the Clear Channel radio network in the halcyon days of that business that included among the stable of talent Rush Limbaugh, a carnival barker who stated publicly that he hoped Obama failed) whose goals is and were to get a new Vikings football stadium built.
So far, McCombs and now Wilf have struck out in their years of attempts in getting the Minnesota legislature to fund a football stadium project and what is more frustrating for both the Vikings ownership group and the National Football League is that the legislature has found more to build a new baseball park for the Twins in Minneapolis and a stadium for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team.
The Golden Gophers new digs opened last fall.
The debt on the Twins park will be paid down by various taxes and some money from the Twins ownership. The park will open in the spring.
The Golden Gophers stadium is also taxpayers funded and students, whether they use the facility or not, have to pay a $25 fee as part of the legislature’s agreement to fund the stadium.
The Twins and Golden Gophers formerly played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, a facility which caused about $68 million of taxpayers’ money to build. The stadium opened in 1982 and apparently no one was pleased with the facility as Twins and Vikings ownership spent years trying to get out of the building.
Wilf still has two years to go on his Metrodome lease.
On Friday, two days before the National Football League’s NFC Conference Championship game, Wilf’s representatives came out with a new stadium plan. The timing of the announcement may have been a coincidence as the Minnesota governing bodies start their session in two weeks but Wilf and the Vikings have sneaked a new play into the stadium playbook.
Use federal stimulus money as help build a suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul football facility. Apparently Wilf has heard from a number of developers who want in on the Viking stadium and the Vikings stadium-planning team has figured out that a two cent on a dollar rise on hospitality taxes, motel and hotel taxes and maybe car rentals, would be a good thing as that would hit tourists not the locals pocketbook, and the usage of Build America Bonds could help swing the financing. The there is the Recovery Act or the Obama stimulus plan.
The Recovery Act, which was passed by Congress in February 2009 and signed into law by President Obama on February 17 of that year, was a $787 billion plan to get the economy which broke in September 2008 moving. The Recovery Act was targeted at infrastructure development and enhancement. For instance, the Act plans investment in the domestic renewable energy industry and the weatherizing of 75 percent of federal buildings as well as more than one million private homes around the country.
Construction and repair of roads and bridges as well as scientific research and the expansion of broadband and wireless service are also included among the many projects that the Recovery Act will fund.
Apparently Wilf and the Vikings ownership feel that a stadium qualifies as part of infrastructure development and enhancement.
Whether a football stadium qualifies for the Obama stimulus plan is something that needs to be researched. Another problem that Wilf faces is that the Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is a lame duck and is not running for re-election in the fall. Pawlenty, a Republican, has other ideas and may be running for President. Pawlenty is a critic of the Obama federal stimulus plan and that should make for an interesting time for Wilf knowing that Minnesota has a lame duck governor who seems more intent on running for President than working at his job which is at least look the Governor of the State of Minnesota.
The Minnesota legislature goes back to work on February 4, which is three days before the Super Bowl, a game that could feature Favre and the Vikings. In terms of being success on the field and whether that leads to politicians opening the coffers for sports teams to build new stadiums and arenas, there seems to be no linkage between the two. Bad teams also get new facilities.
Wilf’s real football season starts on February 4 as that is when he takes the field against Minnesota politicians with cash for a stadium on the line.