Without stadium, will Vikes set sail?

Minnesota can’t afford to lose our football economy to California.

Seven games into the season, the Minnesota Vikings are 6-1, an accomplishment aided by two aging institutions: Brett Favre and the Metrodome. While Favre is an amazing quarterback, a replacement can be drafted when his arm eventually weakens. Finding a new Metrodome when the VikingsâÄô lease expires in 2011 will be considerably more difficult. ItâÄôs no secret that owner Zygi Wilf wants out of the Dome and is on a quest for a new stadium. If Minnesota doesnâÄôt have one, someplace else will. With Gov. Arnold SchwarzeneggerâÄôs signature of legislation exempting a privately financed $800-million, 75,000-seat stadium near Los Angeles from state environmental regulation, California is poised to lure the Vikings away from the northland. State leaders must not allow a repeat of the Lakers 1960 defection to L.A. The Vikings are an important part of the fabric of the state, socially and economically. We should not allow any business with a $133 million payroll and millions more in indirect benefits to waltz out of the state without a fight. Unfortunately, building a fully privately-financed stadium here is unlikely. L.A.âÄôs larger media market and higher concentration of people willing to shell out thousands for premium seats can justify higher team costs. A Minnesota team needs a Minnesota solution: less luxurious, public-private cost sharing, mixed-use, and part of a larger redevelopment of the endless acres of parking lots on the east side of downtown. The state, benefitting most from sales and income taxes, should provide the bulk of help through direct financing and loan guarantees. In exchange, Minnesota should demand partial ownership of the team to maximize public benefit and ensure long-term residency.