We're Black and Blue All Over:
As Minnesota state leaders zero in on the Metrodome site in Minneapolis for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, a significant political hurdle has arisen. Part of the city charter requires a voter referendum for any expenditure of more than $10 million toward a new stadium, and on Thursday, a majority of city council members expressed opposition to overriding that charter for this project.
As Eric Roper of the Star Tribune points out, Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak has proposed $300 million in city tax revenues be used for the stadium. The plan had been to insert language in the bill that would override the referendum requirement, but the council opposition will at least require further massaging of the issue.
A referendum would not only delay the process but also almost certainly scuttle the project. It's generally assumed that voters want a new stadium but won't approve public funds to be used for it. A referendum request is largely responsible for darkening hopes for the Vikings' proposed project in suburban Arden Hills, Minn.
Baseball's Target Field was built only after a public referendum in Hennepin County was avoided.
Rybak bravely said: "We're not going to do a referendum in the city. We are going to have a referendum in a couple years when I stand for re-election." To that end, however, it looks like he has more work to do.
Continuing around the NFC North:
It appears the state portion of the stadium financing will come from electronic pull-tabs, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune wonders if the Vikings have too many holes to fill in the draft.
Green Bay Packers center Scott Wells on free agency, via Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean: "I think something like that could weigh on you if you allow it. But I'm not going to let that happen, not now at least. Right now, I am just enjoying the moment [at the Pro Bowl]. I am soaking all of this in with my family, and everything else can wait."
The Packers need to elevate their pass rush, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Detroit Lions have prioritized getting a long-term contract done with receiver Calvin Johnson, notes Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com.
Tim Twentyman of the Lions' website concludes a three-part interview with Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr.
In a video, Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte describes his health and his contract situation, via ESPNChicago.com.
The Bears' next general manager will have his hands full, writes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.