Vikings Lose Los Angeles As Leverage In Stadium Battle
The Minnesota Vikings lost some big-time leverage in its quest for a new stadium.
The company behind the plan to lure the NFL back to Los Angeles announced Tuesday that the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills will be the first teams it will try to relocate.
Majestic Realty Co. managing partner John Semcken said the company is still considering at least seven franchises for a new stadium 25 miles east of Los Angeles.
In addition to the Bills and Jaguars, the franchises are the San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders.
Semcken told The Associated Press the company won’t approach the 49ers, Chargers or Vikings as long as they are seeking stadium plans of their own.
This essentially means the Vikings won’t be able to use Majestic and its plans as leverage for a new stadium in the Twin Cities. The team won’t become a candidate to move to Los Angeles until it formally gives up any attempts to remain in Minnesota. Team officials still plan on lobbying for a new stadium this legislative session, even though the governor has said he’s not willing to spend state money on a new Vikings stadium, and state Democrats – who control the Legislature – have balked at such plans given the state’s crushing budget deficit. The group that operates the MetroBarn, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, wants the team to renew its current lease for two years. It expires in 2011.
Semcken said the Bills and Jaguars are at the top of the relocation list because they play in small markets that tamp down their earning potential and because they have little hope of building larger venues in their home regions.
“Jacksonville and Buffalo are two teams in very, very small markets,” he said. “They are teams that have either outdated stadiums or are having trouble filling their stadiums or both.”
Jaguars majority owner Wayne Weaver and Bills owner Ralph Wilson have steadfastly dismissed any suggestion they will sell or move their teams, but money talks and tickets haven’t been an easy sell in either market recently.
Jacksonville has had problems filling its stadium for years, and had several games blacked out on local TV stations this season. Buffalo, on the other hand, has played some home games in Toronto in an attempt to expand its market.
It’s anyone’s guess what will come of all this, but one thing’s for certain. The Vikings’ quest for new digs just took another hit.
Looks like the Wilfs better get comfortable peeing in those nasty MetroBarn bathroom troughs.
Sarah is a writer and editor living in the Twin Cities, a lifelong Packers fan and an ardent supporter of all things anti-Vikings.