Get Out of Town October 22

(October 22) Imagine, if you can, the following hypothetical story. Let's say that out of nowhere, a complete unknown candidate emerges for a major local political office. Imagine the public reaction if one of the local television stations is completely up this person's ass, flashing grins whenever this person's name is brought up. Nothing but positive statements are read about this candidate; with no rebuttals from critics or political opponents.

Ok, maybe I just described Fox News. Just kidding…sort of.

What kind of uproar would we see if this sort of situation would occur. Everyone would be completely up in arms. That station would be the laughing stock of the state.

But that's exactly what's happening with the situation concerning the possible move of the Minnesota Vikings' training camp to Sioux Falls.

This rant is not to once again debate whether the Vikes should or should not move here. That was handled last week. My stance then, as is now, is that while I would love to see the team in this city, I don't believe that it's worth spending millions of dollars on fields and other renovations to entice the team.

One point from last week carries over to this discussion, however. If you recall, one of my main beefs was that KELO head cheese Mark Antonitis was a member of the organization who are preparing the proposal. As someone who represents a company who reports the local news, his personal involvement raises questions about the quality of news that his channel provides. Well, we know the quality of KELO news, or at least my opinion of those knotheads.

Anyone who believed that there was no conflict of interest should have seen their Sunday evening broadcast. Their top story at 5:30 and 10:00 was the fact that everyone at a local sports bar, including fans of the Denver Broncos, was in favor of the team's move. Well, duh. That's like going to a Nascar event and asking if those attending like racing. Or going to a strip club and asking if the patrons like firm breasts. Even an ass man is going to nod in agreement.

Certainly, there is room in local television news for fluffy, obvious stories such as this. But the role of local news is not to be simply cheerleaders. Their duty is to report every aspect and angle of any major story, with as little obvious bias as possible. Don Jorgensen's eyes should not light up whenever the topic is discussed. Financial issues should be discussed and investigated. As I said last week, this group is already inflating the figures, with the three million that Mankato claims it brings to their city now becoming a million a day, and over a million in sales tax revenue per year. Inquiring minds want to know how they came up with these figures, and why is their such a huge discrepancy?

The tactics used by KELO, and to be fair the other local stations, stray from their obligation on reporting the news. Not that is anything new. They're all famous for their creativity…and that's not a compliment. There are voices in the community that are upset about the five to fifteen million that may be spent, and it's not just the Skyforce players pissed that their girls will be stolen by multi-millionaires. I hear some of these voices everyday, and whether they are right or wrong in their bitching, their views deserve to be heard.

Some listeners may wonder why I'm singling out television news. After all, a well-know talk radio host is also on the committee, and most local radio stations have had few negative comments. Cade is a loud and proud fanboy…and he should be. Radio and television have different news standards. Radio stations such as this one are entertainment. While news is a part of the program, it's not the major focus. There is no obligation for music stations to have news reporters, or to investigate stories. The news that is read is mainly short headlines to keep their listeners semi-informed, or as a launch for opinionated chatter.

Television news, on the other hand, has much larger standards. They do have duties to be fair and balanced (oops, poor choice of words), to show diverse opinions, and to do everything in their power to keep commercial interests out of their broadcasts. Unfortunately, these lines have been blurred in recent years, which is why we have the Sioux Valley/Ace Hardware/Lewis Drug/insert more advertisers here Healthbeat, or the Subway Hit of the Week. Although most of these tie-ins are innocuous enough, the mere fact that television stations are in bed with their advertisers raises many questions as to how real news stories, including this one, are covered.

One final thought - when I was reading the article in yesterday's daily paper, I noticed that this committee is looking at calling the Howard Wood/Arena area "Vikingland". Hmmm, I wonder who came up with that cliché? Already, I can imagine KELO's new headline - "Vikingland comes to KELO-land".

(October 15) The views that I’m about to express are bound to be not very popular. They’re sort of against the grain of the current wave of support. Like that’s any different than normal. But I wanted to warn everyone, and also plead with those that don’t agree to just listen to what I have to say.
I must say that like everybody else I would love for the Minnesota Vikings to move their training camp to our little city. It would be great to spend a summer afternoon watching a real professional team (at least during a good year) working out and evaluating rookies, free agents, and grizzled veterans. It certainly would be great for my family’s businesses, as I would bet that a 290 pound offensive lineman can easily devour more food than the average family. And it would be good for the fine bartenders at Acme to have a few actual multi-millionaires slipping them a few generous tips instead of those cheap bastards that usually hang out there. And, of course, there’s a whole crop of young, stupid, slightly overweight young women just salivating at the thoughts of a lifetime of generous child support checks.
So yes, I am in favor of the Vikings relocating across the border. But here’s where my conservative side kicks in. I don’t want any government entity – city, county, or state – paying a dime to entice the team. Wait, I take that back. I probably wouldn’t be upset if a few thousand was spent on upgrading the locker rooms, or even the extra practice fields the team claims to need. Actually, I’d prefer that private funds were used, but let’s not quibble on the minor points.
What I don’t want to see is a major outpouring of money, particularly a dome covering for Howard Wood Field. Even the cheapest roof is bound to cost tens of millions of dollars, and, despite what the supporters claim, I don’t see a decent return on that investment.
Now let’s talk about the financial impact on our city. Obviously, there would be some extra cash floating around, from players, coaches, reporters, and the dozens of fans who would actually take vacation time to watch their team practice. But let’s get real. Officials from Mankato say the three weeks the team is in town results in 2 – 3 million a year. Keeping in mind that political-types and chamber of commerce officials tend to inflate numbers even more than those involved with Jazzfest, the figure is probably a little less.
But that doesn’t stop the locals from bragging. The initial reports stuck to Mankato’s figures, but suddenly that number seems to be taking a giant, albeit improbable, leap. Now it’s up to a million per day! How can that be?
This is the sort of rhetoric that has made so many of our citizens disillusioned with the Pavilion. Remember, they didn’t need a parking lot, and six months later we built one anyway. And we were also sold a lie that the facility would be self-sufficient, yet we still kick in six figures per year. You get the drift.
A lot of the major players in that building, and other taxpayer-funded enterprises, are now involved in begging the Vikes to SooFoo. Let’s talk about a couple of the bigwigs that met at Monday’s heavily-publicized meeting. The self-professed leader of this motley crue is Sioux Valley’s Kelby Krabbenhoft, the man responsible for using profits from his non-profit hospital to put their name on seemingly every weather machine, scoreboard and artificial turf in eastern South Dakota. While I don’t doubt that he has a passion for the sport, it seems obvious to me that he has a master plan that has nothing to do with Daunte and Randy.
It’s my belief that he sees this bid as a way to get the state to pay for a domed stadium, and his company would take credit and would get their name on the building for a pittance. Does the words Sioux Valley Doppler 3000 Stadium ring a bell? Get used to it. If the Vikings turn down our bid then he’s got the ammunition to get it built anyway. I can hear it now - “we’ve got to build it so we don’t lose our next opportunity”. Other members of the panel, including former Mayor Rick Knobe, have also been pushing for a domed stadium for years.
Please, let’s not again start in on this supposed need for a domed stadium. It’s a myth that big-name bands are just screaming for an opportunity to play in a half-empty Sioux Falls stadium. Our local semi-pro and minor league teams can barely fill their current locations; the demand for their tickets is unlikely to suddenly double or triple. We may have a larger population than Fargo, but we don’t have our own version of Moorehead or a real university to draw fans. The concert industry, like the record industry, is going through some tough times right now, and there are few bands that cross enough genres to attract the numbers needed to be profitable.
And a dome is not even needed for the team. There are very few days in late July and early August where the weather would affect the team’s practices. If a storm does come through, there’s always the Arena. The Storm plays during that time period, so there is a field for light workouts. One more thing – 10,000 people are not going to turn up to watch a scrimmage. Maybe the first time they host a scrimmage this could happen, but otherwise there’s about as much chance of that regularly occurring as there is that Jenna Jameson is going to marry me.
Let’s now talk about a representative of the state’s largest media outlet - KELO’s Mark Antonitis. As a member of the media that has a duty to report on both sides of the issue, Antonitis has no business being involved with the bidding. Certainly, having the team in town will be a boom for their reporters, but how can we trust any of their reports on this story? So far, they’ve been nothing but cheerleaders, even stating last night that “virtually everyone in (the mythical world) of KELO-land is in favor of the move”. Really? I guess that can occur when you only give one side of the story.
One final question. The reported plan includes an offer for the players and staff to live in the Sheraton during camp. Who pays for this? If it’s the city or state, then the hotel should be reimbursed for only their actual expenses. There’s no way that a private business should profit from the government.
Let’s be real. It’s highly unlikely that no matter what we give away, or whatever buildings we construct, they’re not leaving Mankato. Or at least not moving any further than St. Cloud. Given the fact that the team is trying to break out of their Metrodome lease, and rumors see them eventually landing in San Antonio or Los Angeles, maybe it’s for the better that we don’t get screwed.


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