The arrival of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in Minnesota Friday to discuss the long-festering Vikings stadium problem starts a new phase in the process. The possibility of moving the Vikings to Los Angeles looms larger than ever, but the local politicians in Minnesota don't sound convinced.
"The NFL's ramping up the rhetoric because they're not getting the bill passed that they want. We've got to balance the threats they make with the bad deal that this stadium bill is," representative Ryan Winkler told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He voted against the recent stadium plan.
"I think we've had this so-called warning around here for five or 10 years, so I'm not sure it's a threat," Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem told The Associated Press. He later said: "I think the Vikings are probably going to be around another year or so.''
"Is it real? Is it rhetoric?" Rep. Ann Lenczewski asked about Goodell's visit.
"There was no implied threats, or any threats at all," Goodell said.
Governor Mark Dayton is singing a different tune. He is pressing the issue as much as possible, in part because he said the NFL is pressing him. It's a complex issue with a lot of nuance, but my key takeaway Thursday was that the league said owner Zygi Wilf will be open to selling the team if the stadium issue doesn't move forward this year.
"It was very clear that they see that the Vikings will be in play [to move] if this is not resolved or unfavorably resolved in this session," Dayton said.
It's Dayton's task to convince his colleagues in Minnesota of that.