A View of Minnesota Sports From Below 43.30

You all know by now that I’m not a Minnesotan, right? I lived in Albert Lea for 10 years as a kid growing up, but that’s almost not even Minnesota. I just do this Twins blogging thing because I happen to be a Twins fan, not because I feel any particular affinity for the state.

It occurs to me that perhaps not having any particularly strong ties to the state, much less the Twin Cities area, gives me a somewhat different perspective on Minnesota sports. I feel that disconnect even stronger during these idle times when there’s pretty much nothing Twins-related going on.

I follow about 50 people on Twitter. A few of those are Hawkeye writers/fans and some I follow because I find their takes on political issues of some interest (or at least they’re entertaining). But most Tweeters I’m following are on the list because of a shared interest in the Twins. At least some of those people seem to be at least semi-regular readers of this blog (you know who you are).

The thing is, when there’s nothing to Tweet about the Twins, y’all Tweet about other Minnesota sports teams. I am a Vikings fan, so the discussions about them are of some interest.

But the Wild… the Gophers… the Lynx… the Timberwolves (OK, I don’t see so much about the T’pups, really)… I just have so little interest in those teams that I start to pretty much ignore Twitter. My high school teams were “Lynx”, so at least those Tweets about the WNBA team cause me to flash back to some memories of my teenage years and I confess that I enjoy making fun of the Gophers, but otherwise, I just don’t care about any of them.

I know, I could unfollow all of you. But that just seems rude. I don’t want to communicate to you that I don’t care about you any more. I just don’t care about what you care about this time of year. Besides, I’d just have to try to remember who all I unfollowed so I could re-follow you in a few months, anyway.

So instead of unfollowing you, I’m going to take this one opportunity… when there is absolutely not a damn thing worth stringing 1000 words together on related to the Twins… to tell you all exactly what I think of Minnesota sports. I’m sure you’ll give my opinions all the weight that you typically give to everything else you hear from an Iowan.

I’ll try to be nice. After all, for most of you, the only reason you aren’t Iowans is that you happen to live in a part of the old Iowa Territory that nobody down here wanted to fight for as part of the statehood process a few generations ago. It is understandable that you’d still be somewhat bitter about being left behind back then, but at some point, you just have to get over that kind of thing. (Yes, I know, those of you whose forefathers lived on the wrong side of the Mississippi River were actually Wisconsinites, rather than Iowans, but that’s hardly something to brag about!)

Anyway… let’s talk Minnesota sports.

Since I do care a bit about the Vikings, let’s start there. There’s really only one Vikings-related topic worth discussing at this point and it has nothing to do with who the poor SOB that has to try to play quarterback behind that crappy excuse for an offensive line. It’s all about the stadium, folks.

I’m so tired of reading about this. Most Minnesotans apparently don’t think public money should be used to help the team build a stadium. I understand that. But that’s how it works, these days. To heck with the “referendum” bunk. You think the issue should be decided by voters because this is a democracy? You should have paid more attention during 7th grade government class. We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a republic. We elect people to make these decisions. It’s their job. If they don’t want to make tough decisions, they’re being cowards and have no business serving in a legislature, on a counsel or on a commission.

The model for the new NFL stadium in LA has purple seats. Coincidence?

So I hope your elected officials will just tell the Vikings right now whether they will or will not participate in building a new stadium. Then the Vikings can either get busy actually building it or go find a new city to play football in that will do what Minnesotans won’t. I honestly don’t care at this point. I’ll be a Vikings fan whether they play in Minneapolis, Arden Hills, Los Angeles or London, for that matter. If I owned that team, I’d have told Minnesota good-bye long before this. Then again, if I’d owned the Twins in the 1990s, I’d have done the same thing and they’d probably be the Raleigh-Durham Twins by now.

Now that I have that off my chest, let’s move on to something more pleasant. Let’s talk about the Lynx.

I know nothing about the Lynx, except that they’re a WNBA basketball team and they apparently won their league’s championship this season. I don’t particularly enjoy watching women play basketball, but when that’s the only decent team in town, you damn well better celebrate their accomplishments. Congratulations!

Speaking of basketball, you still have an NBA franchise, right? Then again, Minneapolis might be the only NBA city that won’t even notice if the NBA labor issues result in the entire season being cancelled. I care very, very little about the NBA, in general. I’ve been to two NBA games in my life. I saw the Spurs play in San Antonio in about 1984 when I was down there over the Holidays and went to a game. I also saw the Knicks and Lakers play at Staples Center a few years back. It was fun watching Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee on the video board, but don’t ask me who won the game… I have no idea. I don’t bother watching NBA games until at least the second round of the playoffs and, let’s be honest, that means I never watch Minnesota play.

And then there’s the Wild. I care even less about the NHL than I do the NBA. I’ve been to twice as many NBA games as NHL games and the city I went to that one NHL game at doesn’t even have a team any more (go Whalers!). That said, you would think the Wild would at least serve as some sort of example to the local populace concerning the Vikings situation. Most Minnesotans I know seem to think hockey was invented there and that it’s the only place where anyone plays really good hockey. Yet for years you had no NHL team! Why? Granted, there were a number of reasons, but it had a little bit to do with not being willing to help get a new arena built. So the North Stars became the Dallas Stars. Think about that… you lost your hockey team to TEXAS! Then years later, the state paid half the cost of a new arena to get a new NHL team. (Think about that in a few years when a new bunch of legislators are falling all over themselves to spend twice what’s currently being debated, just so you can lure the Jaguars to move north.)

Then again, most Minnesota hockey fans I’ve known have been much bigger fans of college hockey than the NHL version, anyway. If the Tweets I’ve seen are any indication, however, it doesn’t sound like all’s well with the rodents on skates, either. Still, I can understand a preference for the college game. I feel exactly the same way about college football and basketball.

Speaking of which… how about that Gopher football program? Yes, I’m quite aware that Floyd of Rosedale is having to endure a year of being stuck in Minnesota, but that will be remedied in less than two weeks. I really thought that, once they got an on-campus stadium, it wouldn’t take long to turn the Gopher program around. I can’t say I’m disappointed, though. I’ve got tickets for the Iowa-Minnesota game up there on the 29th and I really am anxious to get my first look at the the new stadium (which I hear is very nice). After the game, I doubt the Hawkeye players will even have to cross the field to get Floyd… the bronze pig will be so happy about returning to Iowa that he’ll run across the field to meet them halfway.

Maybe if the whole Big Ten football thing doesn’t work out up there, TCF Bank Stadium would be kind of a cool place to play outdoor hockey?

If my Minnesota friends think I’ve been a little rough on you and your sports teams here, I apologize. It’s all in good fun, right? It’s not like I flat out hate your other teams with the heat of the very fires of hell.

I save that level of distaste for Wisconsin teams… oh, and Chicago teams… and of course New York teams.

– JC

6 Replies to “A View of Minnesota Sports From Below 43.30”

  1. Good perspective, JC. I’ve lived away from MN for 8 years now (out of 30), and aside from the Twins, I honestly don’t have much of an allegiance to the other major sports teams. I remember going to a T-Wolves game their first season when they played at the Dome, and I’ve never been back. Same with the Vikings — I don’t mind them when they are playing well, and I just ignore them the other half of the time. But I certainly have learned to hate most of the New York and Boston franchises!

  2. I am a long-time Viking hater so I really do want them to leave. Just got done emailing my state reps voicing my view about taxpayer funded stadiums.
    As much as I love the Twins I was NEVER in favor of Hennepin county (I live in Hennepin county) taxpayers paying for Target Field. If I could turn back the clock and if I was the King there would be no taxpayer funded stadium. Now when ever I buy a six-pack of beer or a roll of toilet paper there is a stadium tax added. Those who live in St. Paul pay no extra tax. And of course even after Target Field is paid off the tax will remain till the end of time.
    A few years ago I won free tickets to see the Timber Stiffies take on LeBron and the Cavs. After paying $12 to park we then sat through 2 hours of boring basketball.

  3. mark, in a perfect world, you’re right… stadiums would not be require public funding. Then again, neither would fine arts venues, bike trails or any other “quality of life” amenity. I no longer have kids in public schools, so I’m not sure why I should pay for school costs through my taxes. I certainly shouldn’t pay more than the people in the school district adjacent to mine pay. But we don’t live in a perfect world.

    We live in a world where, if my community or state doesn’t value public education as much as another does, our kids get a lower level education and over time, the quality of the work force is probably not as strong as elsewhere.

    We live in a world where, if we don’t build venues where the traveling cast of “Beauty and the Beast” or the Bruce Springsteen’s latest concert tour can perform and make as much money as they would by performing somewhere else, we won’t see those performances or anything like them in our communities.

    And yes, we also live in a world where, if we don’t help billionaire owners build big arenas and stadiums, we won’t have big time professional sports teams in our communitites because people in other communities in other states will do so.

    It’s all about priorities. If, collectively, you and your local friends don’t care about schools, vote out legislators and school board members that make school funding a priority. If you don’t want money spent on venues and stadiums, make sure you have legislators who feel the same way.

    But when your communities have trouble attracting and keeping major employers… employers who look for well-educated pools of potential local workers, make “quality of life” comparisons when deciding where to locate their major operations centers (and make no mistake, companies absolutely do take that sort of thing in to consideration)… don’t go back to those lawmakers and demand that they “do something” to attract more businesses and create more jobs. They were just doing what you told them to do… not spend money on anything you think shouldn’t be publicly funded.

    Those jobs will be gone. They’ll be in Denver or Seattle or some other city/state that feel supporting schools and fine arts and pro sports is important. And getting them back once they’re gone will be a helluva lot tougher than keeping them would have been when you had them.

  4. Just laughing, JC. I haven’t read my Twitter account for over 2 weeks — mostly for the same reasons.

    I loved the VIkings in my youth and remember the thrill of sitting at the Met in the cold of December. But I pretty much lost all interest in the NFL about 15 years ago and rarely watch now. And pro basketball just goes on forever.

    I love college football and basketball although I’m still bummed about Wisky being in the other division in the B1G. Having heard WAY too much about the Cornhuskers over the years, the Nebraska addition just doesn’t excite me that much.

  5. I find it amusing that the Vikings are all whiny about not getting a stadium. It seems to me that Blaine and the legislature passed a deal to get one built and the Vikings turned it down. Zygi Wilf wants to move the team to LA (Ever notice the colors on LA’s proposed stadium? Purple and white), the stadium is his excuse.

    As to the Hennepin County stadium tax, I’m not at all a fan of the public subsidizing billionaires, but I am happy that overruns on the tax currently fund the HC libraries, enabling all of the libraries to be open longer and on more days – funding that would not exist otherwise.