As a Bears fan living in the Twin Cities I can’t stand the Vikings. They regularly annoy me to the core of my being. While that statement may be a bit dramatic, I can honestly say I dislike them more than the Packers (albeit not much more). However, I don’t want to see them become the second Minneapolis team to find themselves wearing purple and gold in Los Angeles. It just doesn’t seem right for such an established entity that has such a high cultural value to the state to all the sudden be gone.
Today in the Minnesota State Legislature, a bill for the State of Minnesota to finance nearly $300 million of the $1 billion dollar stadium deal barely made it out of committee. This is good news for stadium fans, but it doesn’t guarantee its passage. The bill still has a long way to go before it passes. Many Minnesotans (I am one) feel that no private business should ever receive this large of a check for a facility to do their business in. Especially in “this economy” when Minnesota schools are underfunded, Minnesota roads are crumbling, and the debt keeps piling (to name a few issues). It just doesn’t seem right for the State to pitch in this kind of cash for a place to watch 21 millionaires chasing a ball being carried by another millionaire.
So it doesn’t seem right for the team to leave. And it doesn’t seem right for the State to pay for a stadium. Uff da, ya know, what’s a Minnesotan to do?
Fortunately, there is a proven and true method of keeping the Vikings contained to their natural habitat….
Turn into the Packers.
Allow me to elaborate. The Green Bay Packers are owned by the fans. When the Packer organization needs improvements to their shrine named after man named Curly, they simply offer their fans the opportunity to buy “stock”. It doesn’t feel like real stock, as you can’t sell it, trade it, or make money from it, but you get a certificate of ownership and a chance each year to fire the team president.
In my mind, fan (or community) ownership of a team just makes sense. This is the way other cultural institutions within Minnesota work. When the Walker Arts Center or the Minneapolis Institute for the Arts or Minnesota Public Radio want to add to their buildings, they simply ask for support from their members and the greater community. Sports franchises should work in the same way.
The Vikings currently have roughly $700 billion committed to a new stadium. That leaves $300 million or 30% of the bill left to be paid. What organization would give up on fundraising when they only have 30% of the overall funds left to go? That almost seems un-American to give up now, and when Michele Bachmann is one of our Representatives, by definition we can’t be un-American.
How it Works
So here’s the simple idea. The Vikings should offer a stock drive that will provide the fans with the opportunity to buy 30% ownership of the team and the right to fire the front office at a yearly shareholders meeting. If a share costs $500 a piece, and and the team makes 600,000 shares available, that would equal $300,000,000.
I believe Viking fans would jump at this opportunity. While $500 may seem steep to some, Packer shares cost $300 and they sold roughly 250,000 shares to build an annex on Lambeau (note: this was Green Bay’s fifth stock drive and they added 250,000 shares to their previous total of 4,750,937). Also 600,000 shares would roughly be the equivalent of one share per fan that attends a home game over the next two seasons in the Metrodome.
Ultimately, this is an easy win-win-win that’s a better solution than any on the table. Minnesota keeps the team without putting the State on the hook, the team gets a new stadium (& the profits), and the fans can hold the front office accountable and actually have a shot at winning. At the very least, Viking fans will be able to continue the tradition of having their hearts broken on the field and not off of it. Ya betcha.