need closure to the saga known as the Vikings stadium bill. The thing's not over yet - the Minneapolis city council still has to take its final vote, and Gov. Mark Dayton still needs to sign off on the bill - but the fat lady can be heard gargling.
I've spent the better part of the last week watching House and Senate meetings, and I will say I think we all should take the time to tune in to these once in a while. Not only are they somewhat interesting, you can learn a lot about how our state government works by tuning in. On the reality TV scale, it might not rank up there with Jersey Shore, and there are definitely no Housewives at the Capitol, but it's not bad viewing - in small doses, like medicine.
Now that the stadium issue is reaching fruition I'd like to look back at some things that piqued my interest during the ordeal:
First, to all the die-hard Vikings fans, clad in purple attire, faces painted, who spent virtually their entire week at the Capitol this past week: GET A LIFE! It's one thing to drive down to the Capitol for a few hours and show legislators how much this team means to you at a rally, but to be there every day? As the honorable Judge Elihu Smails said in "Caddyshack," don't you people have homes?
I love the Vikings; I'm not married to them. What would all these fans have done if the bill hadn't passed, hurled molotov cocktails at the Capitol? It's healthy to have passion for a sports team, but when it gets to a point that it consumes your life and takes you away from your family, it's time to take the jersey off, at least until training camp.
Although lawmakers insist they never had enough members present in one room at one time to require a public meeting - and I have no reason to doubt them on that - the pre-conference committee closed-door meetings that took place this week have left a bad taste in my mouth. This is a public issue that will eventually serve the public. This is supposed to by the "People's Stadium." Then why the private meetings? Lawmakers may not have technically ever violated any laws, but ethically, they created an itch I can't scratch. There should be no secrecy when it involves this much state money. None.
I know there are a lot of you out there who would rather use your money for kindling than subsidize a billionaire, but you've gotta tip your cap to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf for throwing in another $50 million to help close the deal. And it's not like he balked at the idea and held out before agreeing to pay more - a move that would've stalled the process, maybe even enough to derail it. As a businessman, Wilf was looking for the best possible deal, and by ponying up another $50 million, I don't think he got it. But in the eyes of the public, he's now a hero. That's too strong of a word for this Vikings fan, but give credit where credit is due, I say.
Avoiding the "I-told-you-so moment." Let's pray the time never comes when we hear legislators who were against the stadium bill stand up and say it. Let's hope gambling revenues match current projections so we don't run into funding issues 10 years down the road. Because things will get ugly if funding for the state's share of the stadium all of a sudden is nowhere to be found. Don't you just love how legislators who supported expanded gambling never called it gambling - always gaming? Like it's less of a dirty word.
I've done my best to avoid sports metaphors today, but I have to get them out of my system: The clock was ticking down on the 2012 session and no one wanted this game to go into overtime. Plus, state lawmakers had no timeouts left and couldn't afford one more loss. Thankfully - if for no other reason than we don't have to hear about the stadium bill anymore - our elected officials were able to cross the goal line, and now all we need is the extra point to end this game.
Ahh, sports and politics what a magical combination.