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THE METROPLEX…. The HHH MetroDome opened its doors for the first time in April of 1982. I was at the first event to ever be held there, an MLB exhibition game between the Twins and Pete Rose’s Philadelphia Phillies. The Twins and the Vikings had both lobbied for a new stadium, with the Twins’ main push for a domed building based upon fan certainty that they could come to the ballpark and not be prevented from seeing a game due to a rainout or other weather event. The Vikes, I believe, liked it because the old Met Stadium had seen its better days and they could obtain a larger live audience with a new locale to play in.
So, with much political debate and haggling, the Dome was agreed upon and constructed. Since it was such a battle to gain agreement to get the Dome built, the MetroDome
was basically what I would call an “economy” stadium. It was nice, to be certain, but compared to what would be around the corner for new stadium layout and design, the Dome was quickly made obsolete. When the plans for the new Camden Yards in Baltimore were finalized, its design and fan amenities immediately made the Dome look like the cheap, spartan facility it was and is.
When Camden was opened in 1992, it soon became the new standard for stadium construction, though it has been outdone several times over at this point. It was at that time that rumblings about a better building for the Vikings and possibly the Twins began. Since multi-purpose stadiums were becoming passé, talk about separate stadiums snuck into the conversation. We know the Twins got theirs, and now the Vikes want the same thing the Twins got. Ok. One thing I want to make clear, though, is that for all of the inadequacies that the Dome possesses, it has been a bona fide success story. It came in under budget, and the note was retired early. From a business standpoint, that is huge.
Fast forward to now, and there is a vote in the state legislature scheduled for tomorrow (Monday) on a stadium funding bill. Financing would have three components: the Vikes, the city of Minneapolis, and the state. There are House members from both sides that support the bill or don’t, but the battle has been waged mostly along partisan lines. The plans call for a pretty fantastic-looking stadium. A few readers have asked me to clarify where I stand, so I will. I am all for a new Vikings stadium. I am not for the current financing plan. There are some other dark details in the bill that haven’t been fully explained to the public by the mass media.
I was also irked by recent scare tactics used by the NFL to try to speed up a conclusion (an up or down vote) on a bill. You see, it is not really that easy for the team to leave the state. This is what you don’t get to read. But actually, NFL Commish Roger “the Hammer” Goodell wants to get this thing done here so he can “protect” the Los Angeles market from a hefty new franchise fee from a possible league expansion, not the piddly relocation fee the Vikes would pay if they moved to Cali. An expansion club would mean that the current 32 clubs split up a $1 billion new franchise fee, versus a $200 mil relocation fee for the Vikes if they got approval to go. Do the math. Goodell has. What do you think he is going to do for his bosses?
Also, some of the debate has centered around a new stadium making the team “competitive” once again, and that is not on the field, folks. Somehow, all of those stories always leave off the word “revenue.” Yes, it has become the taxpayers’ and fans’ responsibility to increase the value of the club and of the owners’ equity by putting up a new playground for them, and thus moving the team up the ladder on the revenue competition ladder as well. But look, let’s finally get this done. We are only delaying the inevitable.
I want the team here, the project will offer some great short-term construction jobs, and I know the building will be the success the Dome has been and we will be proud of it when we go there for games and events. As despicable as the whole process has been, it is time for a yes vote and a positive outcome on this. Let’s do this.
ROUND TWO OF THE greatest hockey tourney on the globe is in full swing, and this afternoon the upstart LA Kings have completed a 4-0 sweep of the St. Louis Blues and are an astounding 8-1 after two rounds. This eve the NJ Devils have beaten the Philly Flyers to take a 3-1 lead in that series. I’ll tell you this now: the Devs were the pick of very few fans before this round began, and now they are one win away from the Conference finals. In my book, they will advance.
The NY Rangers and Washington Capitals are deadlocked at two games apiece heading back to Madison Square Monday eve. I still feel the Range will prevail, but this one could go the distance. Also on Monday eve, the Desert Dogs, a.k.a. the Phoenix Coyotes, go for a knockout win over the Nashville Predators as they hold a 3-1 lead as well. If current trends hold, I could end up 3-1 or 2-2 in this round. This prognosticating is getting to be some grueling stuff! Has been a fab tourney so far, though, with more excitement to come! PEACE
THE MFAN NHL STANLEY
CUP POWER RANK: THE M5!
1. LOS ANGELES KINGS: 8-1 so far, who can stop them?
2. PHOENIX COYOTES: on verge of making Conf. final, G Smith tough…
3. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Mar-tan B. making one last run?
4. NEW YORK RANGERS: can they get upper hand in Game 5?
5. WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Caps riding young goalie Holtby…
OVER & OUT!
Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710 AM in Duluth