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Kevin Schnepf, Published April 25 2012

Schnepf: Stadium, NFL draft dramas collide for Vikings

Fargo - Tonight when the NFL goes prime time with its annual draft reality show, Minnesota Vikings fans will anxiously await what their beloved team will do with the third pick.

Will they pick offensive lineman Matt Kalil? Will they opt for defensive back Morris Claiborne? Could they go for wide receiver Justin Blackmon? Or none of the above, and trade their pick for a few lower round picks?

Oh, what drama.

It rivals Len, Carrie Ann and Bruno trying to pick between Gladys Knight and Roshon Fegan on “Dancing with the Stars.” It’s as intense as Barry outbidding Darrell for a storage locker full of crap on “Storage Wars.”

What Vikings fans should be more concerned about is what’s occurring away from prime-time TV. The future of their beloved Vikings is hanging in the balance in the bowels of the state capitol in St. Paul this week.

Of course, we’re talking about the sudden resurrection of the Vikings’ stadium hopes. Funny how a visit to the Twin Cities from the NFL commissioner can change the momentum of the Vikings’ stadium bill – considered all but dead just a few days ago.

If NFL commish Roger Goodell has as much clout as he thinks he has, maybe – just maybe – the state legislature will OK a new Vikings stadium once and for all.

But if there are enough state legislators who would rather see that “general fund” money being spent on education, roads and the environment, then possibly – and quite highly possibly – another stadium bill will go down in flames.

And possibly – and quite highly possibly – the Vikings could be playing in Farmers Field instead of the Metrodome.

Farmers Field is the latest proposal to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles. The proposed $1.4 billion downtown stadium would sit next to Staples Arena – where another former Minnesota team (the Lakers) call home.

The hopes are to have Farmers Field ready for the 2017 season. Proponents claim if an NFL team arrives before the stadium is ready, it can use temporary venues such as the Rose Bowl in Pasadena or the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The promises from L.A. sound awfully familiar to the ones being promoted in Minneapolis: A new NFL stadium could provide 11,000 permanent new jobs, thousands of construction jobs and generate $1.7 billion for the local economy.

But there is one major – and strikingly similar – obstacle facing the stadium pushes in California and Minnesota. Considering the economic deficits plaguing each state, it may be hard for many to justify spending millions of dollars on a football stadium.

Then again, L.A. hasn’t had an NFL team since 1994 – when the Raiders bolted for Oakland and the Rams left for St. Louis.

Minneapolis, meanwhile, hasn’t had an NFL team reach the Super Bowl since 1977 – the year the Vikings made quarterback Tommy Kramer their No. 1 draft pick.

Let’s hope, for the sake of Vikings fans, that tonight’s pick becomes as productive as Kramer. But more importantly, Vikings fans should be hoping tonight’s pick won’t be playing in L.A.


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com