Are there any lessons for St. Louis in the Minnesota Vikings stadium struggles?
The 2012 NFL Draft is sucking most of the oxygen out of the air lately, but the stadium situation playing out in Minnesota is worth keeping your eye on if you like drama, especially if you are a St. Louis Rams fan. As far as what lessons here might be applied to the Rams' situation with the Edward Jones Dome lease negotiations, don't strain too hard. There really is no 1:1 here, not yet anyway.
What you should be aware of, particularly fans in St. Louis, is the length the league is going to in order to keep the Vikings in Minnesota.
What's notable here is that the league is pulling out all the stops. Roger Goodell and Art Rooney, head of the league's stadium committee, flew to Minnesota this morning to lobby Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders from both parties after a House committee voted down the stadium bill on Monday night. The purpose of their visit was to urge passage of the bill before the current legislative session ends on May 21.
Goodell et al were not heavy-handed with the threats, but they were matter of fact in the reality that there was an open LA market.
For any team to move, stadium negotiations have to be at what the league defines as a "stalemate." Minnesota has been kicking around stadium plans for years. This latest plan was engineered by Dayton late last year, and it had bipartisan support at the time. Using public tax money in an election year, without voter approval, scared off a number of legislators, especially those from Minneapolis who were going to have to kick in sales tax revenues without a vote.
The situation with the Edward Jones Dome negotiations is far from a stalemate. The next round of action begins on May 1, when the Rams present their version of a stadium upgrade plan to the CVC. From there, the two sides will try to reconcile their competing visions before likely heading to arbitration that can run through the end of the year.
If no solution is reached by the end of the year, things still might not be at a stalemate. The Rams infamous "top tier" clause would allow them out of the Dome after the 2014 season. Even that doesn't mean they would leave for the 2015 season, though they could. At that point, the already favorable EJD lease (the team pays a paltry $500,000 per year, not even the veteran minimum salary) could revert to a year-to-year situation, which is where the Vikings are at with the Metrodome.
If the Rams get to Jan. 1, 2015, and still don't have a lease done, then you can expect the real posturing and brinksmanship to start.