MINNEAPOLIS -- The streets around Mall of America Field, AKA the Metrodome, were empty on Sunday afternoon.
A couple of people waited for a light rail train but there wasn't a car on 4th Street. The Vikings had the week off, but one man on a mission to keep them in Minneapolis, was more than happy to talk optimistically.
"I don't think the game is over yet. We're excited that we're back in the game so to speak," Melvin Tennant said. Tennant is the President and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, the city's Convention and Visitors Association. You don't have to tell Tennant what the Vikes mean to downtown; a U of M study a couple years ago suggests they bring in 8 weekends that consequently bring in $5 to $9 million.
"Losing the Vikings would be a tremendous loss for the city. I know they're currently focused on Arden Hills, but we feel we have a very, very viable set of options here in Minneapolis," Tennant explained. The mayor's been pitching 3 sites (the dome, the farmer's market, and a plot near the Basilica). The city is also selling its bars, restaurants, hotels, and transportation infrastructure.
"They may come in to be cheaper, quicker and there may be a better package there and that may be a critical issue," Hamline Political Science Professor David Schultz said. Schultz says an assessment of Ramsey County's Arden Hills site didn't give the team the quick timetable they were seeking. The fact that Ramsey County won't kick in $350 million from a sales tax could be an issue too, Schultz warned.
While Minneapolis may have a little momentum, the professor isn't encouraged about lawmakers' progress in general. He says lawmakers have an image problem following a government shutdown and the passage of a less than desirable budget. Plus, even though a recent poll found a public appetite for the expansion of gambling for funding, Schultz wonders if there's support in the capitol.
"You're going to have a lot of liberals and a lot of social conservatives who are going to line up against the issue of gambling," he said.
Where does this leave the ever-changing stadium game? Maybe, just maybe, we'll learn more this week.