Build the stadiumOf all of the talk about the Vikings stadium, some of the most sensible has come from Twin Cities chief executives who are used to weighing costs and benefits, looking down the road on behalf of their businesses and making complex decisions.
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
Of all of the talk about the Vikings stadium, some of the most sensible has come from Twin Cities chief executives who are used to weighing costs and benefits, looking down the road on behalf of their businesses and making complex decisions.
Ecolab CEO Doug Baker and U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis spoke last month to columnist Lori Sturdevant of the Star Tribune. Their words are worth coming back to today, now that a Vikings stadium deal is coming up for a vote, and the margin is likely to be close — it’s “fourth and inches,” as the Associated Press put it.
As lawmakers from northwestern Minnesota make up their minds, they should give special weight to the thoughts of Baker, Davis and others in the Minnesota business community.
That’s because these executives’ only goal is to figure out what’s best for Minnesota’s economy, business climate and civic health.
And those are pretty good foundations on which to base a decision.
“We came very quickly to the conclusion that losing the Vikings would be a huge blow to this community, whether you are a fan or not,” Baker told Sturdevant.
“A strong community is very important for a successful business. It’s akin to education, transportation, the arts, the nonprofits and other amenities in the city, to make sure we have a work environment that’s conducive to long-term, healthy employees. It all works together.”
Davis agreed. “What should I think of a community that wouldn’t support a 50-year-old icon and infrastructure that relates in part to who they are?” he added.
“What should I take away from that, if this community can’t rally behind that?
“I can’t put a dollar amount around it. I can’t say that the world will fall apart if we don’t have an NFL franchise here two years from now. But it will be a lot less attractive and a lot less easy to brag about the headquarters being in one of the great American cities.”
Said Baker, “If Ecolab or General Mills left, it would be a huge tragedy, but the headline would last about a half a minute anywhere but here. If the Minnesota Vikings leave, from a visibility standpoint, it is a huge statement about this community’s willingness to invest in its future.
“This issue has outsized risk.”
Here’s another recent comment, this one from a fellow named David Olson:
“A pro football franchise is important to the overall quality of life, fabric of Minnesota. I think everybody seems to acknowledge that if a pro football team left, that chances are pretty good two or three years down the road, we’d build a new team a castle, and spend millions of dollars trying to attract a team here.
“We have a team here, so if we can find a package to keep them here, that’s a good thing.”
Olson is president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. And with the chamber adding its voice to those that support the deal, it’s strong evidence that keeping the Vikings in Minnesota is the right thing to do.