The Vikings and their allies are hoping to shove this monstrosity down the throat of residents without a public vote, knowing full well they don’t want it. According to a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll, 75 percent of residents oppose using any public money for a stadium. Governor Mark Dayton has expressed reservations, and a group of county residents who object to a “Vikings Tax” are trying to force a public referendum.
This is how an owner does business?
NFL owners are fast wearing out the public goodwill and have no one to blame but themselves. Between extortionist stadium deals and the squeeze for every dime from fans at the ticket booth and concessions, owners have made it a lot easier to believe the players have a point when they say they didn’t provoke this fight.
After all, the owners interrupted 20 years of labor peace by tearing up the agreement they made with the players in 2006, claiming the terms were too generous — even though they agreed to those terms with just two dissenting votes. The owners complained they weren’t getting a big enough slice of a $9 billion revenue bonanza. The owners dishonestly negotiated TV contracts, accepting below-market deals in order to give less money to players, so as to squeeze them even harder.
But lately there are signs that not all owners are absolutely united in the squeeze strategy. On Monday, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay seemed to break from the pack with a Twitter message that suggested if it was up to him, he would do a deal today with Colts center Jeff Saturday, who is a representative for the players. “Jeff Saturday and I could get this thing done, on cocktail napkins, over a long lunch at Rick’s Boatyard . . . it’s not that hard!” he wrote.
Another owner who seems to be a voice of reason is Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots. He made some striking comments to the Boston Herald over the weekend while judging a science fair at Gillette Stadium.
“I think we’re coming to that point now, where we start to hurt ourselves collectively in the eye of our fans,” Kraft said. “Because in the end, the fans just want football. They don’t want to hear about all this meaningless squabbling.
“I don’t think there’s another industry in America that’s in the court system. I always believe you don’t solve things through litigation. You solve things by people who have a long-term vested interest in the game sitting down and finding ways to build it.”
Now that’s how an NFL owner should do business.