By all accounts, Minnesota's political leaders received a clear message Friday morning in a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers president/co-owner Art Rooney.
"This is it, folks," Gov. Mark Dayton said during a post-meeting news conference.
"They served us a reality check," state Sen. Julie Rosen said.
"Things will have to be moving a little bit more quickly," House Speaker Kurt Zellers said.
"The writing is on the wall," Dayton added.
Legislators from both houses and parties emerged with clear marching orders: Revive a stadium bill that died in a committee earlier this week or face the departure of the franchise. Goodell said he made "no implied threats or any threats at all," but in reality he didn't need to. As we discussed Thursday, the team and league are giving the state another 10 or so days of exclusivity before opening the door to relocation alternatives.
That in itself wouldn't lead to relocation, but it would put Minnesota in competition with other municipalities for the first time in the 10-plus year battle on this issue.
The legislative leaders offered different recollections of the extent to which the Los Angeles market was discussed, especially after reports that owner Zygi Wilf's plane was spotted in Southern California, where he often visits to maintain real estate investments. But Rosen, one of the bill authors, said Goodell answered a question about the subject by "clearly" labeling it "an open market" and pointing out that the Vikings "do have the right to move or be sold."
Focus now shifts to the Minnesota Senate, where the bill will be heard in a committee Friday afternoon while parallel efforts to revive it in the Minnesota House are under way. But the larger question is not whether state leaders agree on the issue. It's how effective they can be, or how willing they are, in strong-arming enough dissenters into pushing the bill to a vote of full membership.
From what I understand, the Vikings feel confident that enough legislators will vote for the bill if it makes it to that level. That makes the next seven-10 days the most important in the history of the franchise. Stay tuned.