Over the past months, we've been discussing the Minnesota Vikings' stadium bill in the context of Monday's required adjournment of the Minnesota state legislature. That body hasn't given the bill so much as a single committee hearing, and it now seems highly unlikely to consider the proposal in a meaningful way before adjourning.
What does that mean for the future of the Vikings? The answer is not much, at least not yet.
All indications are that Gov. Mark Dayton will need to call legislators back for a special session to approve the state budget before the July 1 start of the state's fiscal year. Dayton has the authority to put the stadium issue on the agenda of a special session.
The July 1 date is key both for the state and the stadium issue. Remember, after that date, either the Vikings or Ramsey County can opt out of their current stadium agreement, which calls for a $1.057 billion stadium in suburban Arden Hills. The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome expires Feb. 1, 2012, and they would technically be franchise free agents thereafter.
The likelihood of a special session makes it folly to write off either the current proposal or a future proposal at an alternate site. I realize we have chronicled a number of short-term hurdles to overcome, including a $131 million gap on road improvements and a dispute over naming rights. It's also clear that state legislators, who spent Saturday debating a Minnesota constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, have been and remain focused elsewhere.
But until a special session ends without legislative approval, something we might not know until the end of June or later, we'll keep you updated on all relevant developments.
Understandably, this topic makes some of your eyes glaze over. Others, TDBuddah included, appear mostly amused by what appears from the outside to be an overcooked issue. A few of you consider it a Pavlovian prompt to ask how the NFC North will replace the Vikings when they move to Los Angeles. But when a franchise with a 50-year market history is months away from free agency, I think it's worth our time to follow. Stay tuned.