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Published April 18 2012

Forum editorial: Vikings still have LA option

The Los Angeles Vikings. The Los Angeles Vikings! How awful does that sound?

If the Minnesota Legislature can’t find a way to cobble together a public/private package for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, the chances of the cold-weather Vikes playing in the southern California sun get better all the time. The rejection this week of a stadium proposal by a key legislative committee (only one Democrat supported the bill) tilts the odds further away from holding the team in Minnesota.

No way, you say?

Consider the path trod thus far. Stadium debate of various intensities has been under way for a decade. As time ran out for the Vikings Metrodome lease, some urgency attached to the debate. (The team has one more season on the dome agreement.) The Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton have been working overtime to find an agreement that is acceptable to the team, the state and the host city. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, has been the go-to guy in the process. He led the effort to develop compromise legislation. That work was upended Monday when the House Government Operations Committee rejected the bill on a 9-6 vote. Stadium legislation is stalled in the Senate.

Lanning said, “Someone would have to perform a miracle at this point” to revive legislation.

For its part, the Vikings organization is understandably discouraged. “We’ve done everything we have been asked,” said team Vice President Lester Bagley. “What else are we supposed to do?”

What else? Among the options is looking west. Team officials have been close to the vest about their moving options, but it’s no secret that well-financed interests in Los Angeles are ready to invest what it would take to bring the Vikings to a stadium in that sprawling city. Vikings owners have said again and again that they want to keep the team in Minnesota, but if Minnesota’s elected representatives can’t get their act together, a move is a viable option.

The most optimistic legislative leaders said it’s still possible the stadium bill can be revived before the session ends this month. Others, including Dayton, are not as optimistic, but said there still is time for a deal that must be finalized in the next 12 months. Maybe so. But given this week’s stall in St. Paul, the team surely is working on the logistics and financing, and re-examining the merits of becoming (oh, my God!) the Los Angeles Vikings.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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