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Pandemonium and Misplaced Priorities in Minnesota

December 17, 2010

During the blizzard last weekend, in the wee hours of Sunday morning December 12th, the Metrodome broke. The roof caved in from the weight of the snow and ice and the Minnesota football world was knocked off its axis and sent spinning wildly out of control.

Pandemonium ensued.

The Vikings game scheduled for that day was moved to Detroit and a sense of calm was restored while everyone in the football universe waited for the expert technicians to arrive and fix the football world again.

The experts arrived and said the damage, while repairable, was worse than originally thought, and then the worst thing that could have happened, did happen. The Metrodome broke even more and the repair team left the field because the environment was too dangerous. The Metrodome now sits broken, snowy and alone on the east end of downtown Minneapolis.

The Vikings had one more home game to play in their disappointing season and the decision was made by the Powers of the Football Universe to keep the game in Minnesota and move it over to the University of Minnesota’s new TCF Stadium. The problem with the U of M’s TCF Stadium is that parts of the bleachers were buried under five-foot snow drifts, and seats, not to mention the field, were covered with snow and ice.

Players aren’t happy about playing outdoors on a frozen football field and one player, Chicago Bears safety Chris Harris has said:

“The NFL is cracking down on all this player safety and fining people $75,000, $50,000 for a hit because they want the game to be safer. I don’t think it’s very safe to play on a frozen field.’’

Don’t take my word for it because I’m not a football fan, and I’m certainly not questioning Mr. Harris, but isn’t football traditionally an outdoor sport that is played in the winter? And doesn’t the ground usually freeze in the winter? Isn’t there some type of football lore about a playing football on a  “frozen tundra”?

The process of cleaning up TCF Stadium and thawing the playing field is underway at TCF Stadium at a cost of approximately $700,000.00+. The call went out mid-week for “volunteers” to come down and shovel snow for $9-$10.00 an hour and the response was so overwhelming that people were turned away because there wasn’t enough snow for them all to shovel. Why they were called “volunteers” is a mystery to me since the snow removal task at TCF Stadium is a paying job. Semantics aside, the scene nearly turned into a concert by The Who in Cincinnati yesterday as people who had waited in line for shoveling jobs only to be turned back into the cold became frustrated with the disorganized process and began shouting, swearing and banging on the doors to be let in to shovel.

Adding to the problems is that TCF Stadium is smaller than the broken Metrodome by close to 15,000 seats and the seating designs are different. Solving that problem, The Powers of the Football Universe have decided to make admission for ticketed fans to the Monday Night Football game general admission. What this means for anyone who cares is that the doors to TCF Stadium will open at 5:00 p.m. on game day and if you have lower level seats in the broken Metrodome you’ll be allowed to sit anywhere in the lower level at TCF Stadium. If you have upper level seats… you get the idea. I imagine this should be a lot of fun for ticket holders. Limited parking near TCF Stadium and no alcohol sales in TCF Stadium are other issues facing fans for Monday’s game.

My thought is that the game should have been moved to another stadium in another city. The commitment to keep this meaningless game in Minnesota, and the scramble to make a college football field that wasn’t designed to be used in the winter ready for a winter NFL game, is an enormous waste of time, effort and money and this whole circus is being carried out for only one reason which is to garner public sympathy for a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Sympathy for a publicly funded $750 million to $1 billion dollar bailout for a millionaire NFL football team owner.

I don’t mind paying taxes, but I mind paying taxes to build sports stadiums when Hunger Solutions Minnesota releases a report telling us that visits to local food shelves in the Twin Cities have risen by 97% in the last two years and suburban food shelves are seeing increases as high as 30%. When a person who has worked his/her entire life is unable to find work and has seen their income drop by 50% and has exhausted their life savings and find themselves without enough money to put meals on the table for their family and has to rely on food shelves, when a package of Oreo cookies is considered one of life’s luxuries, when 20% of Minnesota families – adults and children – are dealing with hunger, then I think we have a bigger problem in front of us than a simple broken football stadium. And I think we have an obligation to fix that problem before we look at fixing a broken football stadium for a millionaire football team owner and his millionaire football players. Let them fix their broken stadium and leave me to help put food on people’s plates.

One question I have in this whole mess is why the Minnesota Vikings organization, and the NFL by extension, doesn’t have any sort of contingency plan in place for emergencies like this. Why the panic and the scramble and the pandemonium this week? This isn’t the first time the Metrodome had collapsed and if they fix the roof it probably won’t be the last time it collapses. The knowledge that it could collapse again – and that it did collapse again under heavy snowfall – shouldn’t have come as a surprise or shock to anyone. The only good thing out of this whole mess is that no one was in the building when the roof fell in.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Joel Held permalink
    December 17, 2010 10:35 am

    of course there will be Pandemonium….what else would you expect from Dusty Rhodes?


  2. December 18, 2010 9:32 pm

    Amen. Our country – not just Minnesota – has some of the most messed up priorities. And it always comes down to one thing…money and whose got the most of it.



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