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ROOF OR NO ROOF? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
Posted By Sean Eckhardt On Jan 26 2011 @ 7:48 pm In Minnesota Vikings | 2 Comments
The Minnesota Vikings need a new stadium. This is not any kind of breaking news, but the past several weeks have certainly added some new dynamics to the discussion. The Vikings had to move two home games at the end of the season when the roof on Mall of America Field(a.k.a. the Metrodome) collapsed due to heavy snow. The first game was moved to Ford Field in Detroit, a cutting edge indoor stadium. For the home finale however, the Vikings as an organization didn’t want to play the game outside of Minnesota. So the wheels were set in motion and the team played their final home game at TCF Bank Stadium, which is the newly built outdoor facility that houses the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. While the Vikings were crushed by the Bears 40-14, the overall success of the game itself being outdoors started a whole new debate. Now the argument doesn’t seem to revolve around whether or not the Vikes should get a new stadium, but instead, should that new field have a roof on it.
The Vikings have played indoors for nearly thirty years. There are obviously a lot of advantages to both fans and the team to playing the games in a dome. Fans can sit comfortably and not have to worry about the elements while the game is going on. Having been to plenty of games in the Metrodome, I can tell you that it is a great environment to watch a game, so long as you are a Minnesota fan. It is also a little more conducive to taking the whole family, especially in the winter months. The team has enjoyed an advantage over the years as well. A roof overhead means that all of the noise generated by the passionate fans of purple has nowhere to exit. The noise factor in this dome is legendary. One of the first things Randy Moss commented on when he returned to the Vikings for a brief stint during the 2010 season was the electricity inside the building. Unfortunately, Moss didn’t get to feel a lot of it this time around. This building is past it’s prime, but the time inside of it carries some fond memories for all.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is one of the chief proponents of a new outdoor stadium for his team. He has said that the Wilf family is willing to put up one third of the costs to build a new stadium, as long as it is an outdoor venue. I have heard plenty of the media outside of Minnesota scoff at the notion that anyone would want an outdoor stadium in a place that sees such inclement weather. Well, maybe those princess media types might want to take a look at the two Conference Championship games that took place this past weekend. Both games were played outdoors, in cold weather, with snow present, and fans packed in like sardines. If you live in Miami, this type of game may seem like hell. Just ask Dan LeBatard for his opinion. If you live in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Green Bay, New York, New England, or Minnesota, this type of game feels more like home. There is certainly a swell of momentum for an outdoor stadium for the Vikings.
In the end, this issue may come down to politics. Will the Minnesota State Legislature appropriate funds for a facility that is not multi-purpose. It doesn’t have to house another major team, but local politicians have already expressed concern over various uses that the Metrodome has, that a new outdoor facility would not be able to replicate. During the winter months, there would be no high school tournaments, high-end concerts, or other functions that help to offset and justify such a large expenditure. On the other hand, the Minnesots Vikings have been in town for 50 YEARS! They are playing in the oldest facility in town. Fans of this franchise do not want the their team to even think about leaving town. This is a team that has plenty of local support, but it has been lagging behind in stadium revenue for over a decade. Maybe the city can keep the old dome for it’s own uses and put the new stadium at a different location. The original plan called for relocation right outside the city, but that plan included a shared facility with the Golden Gophers, and a separate baseball park for the Twins, all at one central spot. The Twins and the Gophers both got their own stadium. The Vikings deserve one too.
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