BBAO: 'Growing concern' for Vikings owner

We're Black and Blue All Over:

As a team official noted "growing concern" from team ownership about the state's commitment to the franchise, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton suggested he would support a voter referendum on the Minnesota Vikings stadium proposal. If Dayton follows through with that plan, the project would at least be further delayed and possibly threatened altogether.

It's important to add our traditional caveat that all stadium deals are complicated, and many evoke increasingly heated rhetoric. It's part of the game. But here is where the Vikings are now: Dayton said at the Minnesota State Fair that there are many unanswered questions about the team's $1.057 billion proposal for suburban Arden Hills and that he would be "supportive" of a Ramsey County referendum. "In a case like this, people should have their own voice," Dayton said. (Courtesy Minnesota Public Radio.)

Stadium supporters have often sought to circumvent referendums, believing it unlikely that that citizens will vote to increase their taxes no matter what the purpose. Indeed, Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett said a referendum could be a deal-breaker for the project. It's worth noting that baseball's Target Field was approved without referendum in Hennepin County.

On the same day, Vikings vice president Lester Bagley had this to say about owner Zygi Wilf's attitude toward the stadium situation, via Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com: "I am concerned. There is growing concern within our ownership, there is no doubt, about where this is headed and the fact that every year, we get to the end of the [legislative] session and there's a different reason why [it didn't get done]."

Again, much of what you just read, if you made it that far, is part of the process. But you can add the referendum issue to a series of hurdles that already exist, from a staunch anti-tax state legislature to the proposals of environmental studies that could delay the project. The Vikings' Metrodome lease expires Feb. 1, 2012.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • The Vikings are giving defensive end Everson Griffen some practice time at weakside linebacker, notes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune. Injuries have left the Vikings with moderate depth at the position behind starter Erin Henderson.

  • Vikings center John Sullivan has been healthy all summer after struggling through calf injuries last year, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • The Chester Taylor fiasco is another example of the Chicago Bears as a "dysfunctional embarrassment," writes Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.

  • Linebacker Lance Briggs' contract situation is representative of a larger issue in the Bears' locker room, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. Haugh: "Fair or not, Briggs believes he represented a growing number of teammates unhappy with the way the Bears organization deals with players. To hear some insiders other than Briggs describe morale at various times this preseason, the Bears could become the first NFL team to use the Disenfranchised Tag for players."

  • Bears running back Marion Barber's calf injury isn't considered serious, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • There is no cause for concern on Bears place-kicker Robbie Gould's uneven preseason, writes Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald.

  • Detroit Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson on the release of competitor Dave Rayner, via the Detroit Free Press: "I'm glad he's gone because he was good."

  • Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on his swipe at New England Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins last Saturday, via Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News: "Do I regret it? No. But the funny thing about the whole situation is, I wasn't the one who got the 15-yard penalty for grabbing a face mask. [Mankins was penalized.] And the other funny piece about it is, I didn't know you can't help protect one of your teammates. I had a great conversation with the ref who saw everything and he said, 'Next time make sure you let me handle it. But I understand what you were doing, helping your teammate out and removing him from the situation.'"

  • The daily link from Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com would have gone here. May God rest his soul.

  • Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones hasn't seen many passes thrown his way in the preseason, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wonders if the Packers could keep five tight ends on their final roster.

  • Packers receiver Greg Jennings (bruised knee) returned to practice Monday, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.