Monthly Archives: December 2010
Congratulations are in order for Gavin Newsom and the SF Board of Supervisors, who held firm and didn’t give away the farm in their winning America’s Cup bid. The City beat out stalking horse Newport, RI, who did not actually get its 2013 bid out in time, despite having the experience of holding the event throughout much of the 20th century.
72-foot catamarans will be the vessel of choice, and the races themselves will be held at the Golden Gate, with excellent views from North Beach, the Marina, and the Marin Headlands.
The upshot of this is that we’ve now gotten two glimpses into how Larry Ellison makes deals when it comes to his sporting interests. He plays hardball (America’s Cup). He doesn’t overbid (Warriors). And now that he and his partners will be investing $150 million on SF’s waterfront with the idea of ensuring that the event will continue to be held here every three years into the distant future, it seems unlikely that he’ll turn his attention to other potential sports endeavors, namely the A’s. Just in case you’ve forgotten, the sixth richest person in the world has, as part of his day job, gone double-barreled at HP and has also set his sights on just about every other enterprise heavyweight in the tech industry. So for those who want to keep thinking that Ellison will simply head over the bridge and become Oakland’s knight in shining armor, get real. He has other things on his mind.
I don’t regularly go onto The Google and type in the terms “councilman dui.” After Oakland District 5 Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente’s arrest for an apparent DUI violation earlier this morning, I was curious.
The final tally: 61,800 results, most of them from media outlets. Included were a Hercules councilman’s DUI last month and an incident in which a Westminster councilman wrapped his Mercedes around a telephone pole in 2009. After lightly going over some of these incidents, it seems that all of the guilty properly lawyered up and got probation to the tune of 2-3 years, which may have included ankle monitoring. Could IDLF receive a better or worse fate?
This blog tends to stay away from profiling politicians, but IDLF’s dissenting vote (conditional as it was) earlier in the week makes this issue somewhat relevant. Rumors have been swirling about IDLF potentially taking a job within incoming Governor Jerry Brown’s administration, and this would undoubtedly have a negative impact on his chances. As for keeping his job at Oakland City Hall, it’s probably safe. IDLF is halfway through his current term, his fifth. None of the articles I skimmed in my highly unscientific review indicated that any of the offenders had to vacate their positions, as long as they didn’t maim or kill anyone in the process. I don’t mean for this to sound glib, that’s just the way it seems to shake out. On a personal front, the man has been through worse.
If you’d like to steer the discussion away from IDLF, by all means! Be my guest. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and be smart if you’re gonna imbibe. Get a designated driver, use public transportation or take a taxi.
To celebrate the holiday season, the Marlins have sent out a virtual greeting card showing a time-lapse of the construction of their new ballpark. It’s scheduled to open in 2012. Impressive, right? Maybe not when you take a look at this cross-section (via Autodesk/Hunt-Moss), in which all of the luxury suites have been stuffed behind the plate:
Craig Calcaterra thinks Oakland is wasting $750k on the EIR study. His rationale at the end may be more spot on than you might think.
Jeff Moorad and partners finally completed their purchase of the Portland Beavers. The team will play in Tucson for at least the 2011 season, with the idea of playing in Escondido as soon as 2012.
The San Diego Reader’s business/finance writer, Don Bauder, considers Petco Park a failure and considers it a cautionary tale for those who may want a downtown SD football stadium for the Chargers.
At Biz of Baseball, Maury Brown has a slew of new articles:
- Player salaries are down nearly 1% from 2009 to 2010.
- Revenue sharing also dropped, from $433 million in 2009 to $404 million in 2010.
- For the Brewers, Greinke means ducats.
Lancaster is adding solar panels to its ballpark, which will make it 98% self-powered.
The ballpark for the now relocated Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals) is already having the team move in, even though construction started only in August. Called Werner Park, the new digs are expected to open in April.
Now that funding for the Victory Court EIR has been approved, what will the next year-plus look like? How does the process work, and what could speed up or slow it down?
I posted a possible timeline for the EIR work at AN. Here’s the entire comment:
Jan-Mar: Draft EIR prepared
Apr: Notice of availability, distribution of Draft EIR
Apr-May: 45-60 day comment period
Jun-Nov: Final EIR prep
Dec: Final EIR notice of availability and distribution
Dec-Feb: Final EIR comment period (30-60 days)
Mar: EIR Certification, 30-day period to allow for challenges
That leaves anywhere from 12-18 months to do land acquisition, depending on if/when MLB gives the green light. That could be the biggest problem, since there’s little chance that Oakland will start negotiations or property takings if MLB doesn’t commit to Oakland. The later it starts, the worse it gets. Construction should start in a 6 month window between November 2012 and April 2013 if all parties want to make Opening Day 2015. Also, this schedule is based on everything going smoothly. For big projects in Oakland, often someone mounts a legal challenge that inevitably delays the process.
The final EIR prep may be shorter or longer because it is largely a response to new information requests and comments by various public agencies and private parties. There’s also the possibility that some of the methodology may be questioned, which could cause some portion of the EIR to be redrafted.
CEQA‘s flowchart shows more detail:
CEQA usually calls for a feasibility study to scope out the cost of mitigation for the project. That’s the last step before the City approves the project, and the cost of mitigation tends to vary greatly depending on what’s involved. This is often a point where lawsuits come in, because certain parties may not feel that mitigation measures are comprehensive enough or even completely lacking.
MLB could make this much easier on Oakland by making a decision in the City’s favor sometime in the next few months. Then Oakland could start the land acquisition process, though that would be with the idea that they’d have an uncooperative ownership group for whom they’d be buying the land. A long period for land acquisition helped San Jose in the long run, as SJRA benefited from dropping property values over the last three years.
Oakland and its boosters would also have to get MLB to commit to bringing in a more Oakland-friendly group, a task which will range somewhere between difficult and impossible. Looking for Larry Ellison? Don’t bother, since he and his buddies will be investing $150 million either in San Francisco or Newport, RI over the next 2-3 years. At this point, I think it’d be more likely that MLB buys the A’s as they did the Expos and as the NBA is buying the New Orleans Hornets. If MLB can’t find a suitable buyer or Oakland drops the ball, then well, I really don’t want to go there.
Liveblog of the meeting (watching the stream):
7:15 PM – The first of eight speakers, Chris Dobbins, is up. The first three speakers are in favor of the resolution: Dobbins, Mike Davie, and Jorge Leon. emperor nobody is fifth with the the phrase “green stadium” as the magic words to making the ballpark work. Ethan Pintard suggests other alternative sites, is concerned with land availability. Bryan Grunwald suggests 980 Park, wants more transparency in the process.
7:28 PM – Council is speaking. Nancy Nadel asks about the Uptown garage, which will have $3.8 million in available funding, which will not be enough to finish the garage (it was also dependent on a now dormant housing development). Funny, she talks about the garage in terms of bringing people in from outside Oakland; isn’t that one of the purposes of a ballpark? Just asking.
7:33 PM – Rebecca Kaplan is up, is encouraged but wants alternatives (uses of the Victory Court site) just in case MLB doesn’t choose Oakland or a ballpark doesn’t pan out. Suggests the Coliseum as a possible site, though she takes care that mentioning the Coliseum is not opposition to Victory Court (sounds like a backpedal from the pre-election stance). Asks about pedestrian and rail crossing improvements, potential for a streetcar project.
7:36 PM – Ignacio de la Fuente thanks A’s fans. Is concerned about how MLB plays one city against another to squeeze out the best deal they can. Implores MLB to make a decision, says he can’t in good conscience support the resolution without a commitment from MLB. Brings up the DC-NoVA bidding war to land the Nats. Northern Virginia, like San Jose, was considered in the lead because it was well organized and had good political and economic support. DC got the team because of the deal put together by Robert Bobb and then-mayor Anthony Williams.
7:41 PM – Jane Brunner rebuts IDLF. Basically says that if we don’t approve this, we lose the team tomorrow (applause).
7:44 PM – Jean Quan expresses her support. Also looks at the site for other potential uses.
Motion passes 6-2. “Let’s Go Oakland” chant ensues.
Side note: A Bay City News article (via NBC Bay Area) mentions Fremont as Wolff’s fallback if MLB doesn’t allow a move to San Jose but only as a past (and currently not active) site possibility.
Greetings from the Southland again, where I am working on an ark to transport me, family, and pairs of animals away from the flash flooding here. At least it ends tomorrow. I think.
Rich Lieberman has the scoop that the A’s are dropping out of the KTRB bidding, due to the station’s “significant internal issues.” I think Big Vinny is cutting the A’s a bit too much slack here. Lew Wolff and Ken Pries are fully aware that individual stations don’t come up for sale very often, so to be able to jump in on one that already has your programming and really only needs some upkeep is a pretty rare opportunity, especially in the Bay Area. I’ve gotten on my soapbox two weeks ago, so I won’t belabor the point. Let’s just say I’ll be seriously disappointed if this comes to pass.
Speaking of opportunities, the Oakland City Council will take up the $750k EIR decision on tonight’s agenda (PDF). Be forewarned, however. The agenda has 47 items, and the meeting starts at 5:30 PM – which makes sense if you’re going to cram 47 items into a single session. The Victory Court item, 10-0260, is way down towards the bottom of the list and is a non-consent item, which means it will be heard after 6:30. A staff note for the item goes as follows:
The December 14, 2010 Community and Economic Development Committee approved recommendations and directed staff to spend conservatively – as slow as possible and decisions to expend funds should be leveraged against tangible certainties.
Staff further directed to add a RESOLVED that the contract is subject to termination at any time, with remaining funds left unspent, should the City’s work with the Major League Baseball stop progressing towards a satisfactory conclusion; 4 Ayes
Again, the item should pass handily with the added termination clause, though there will undoubtedly be a great deal of discussion before that vote is taken. The meeting will stream here.
If you’ve been following the Twitter feed, you’d know that tonight I’ve been following the Escondido city council’s decision on whether to move forward with its $50 million AAA ballpark plan for the Padres.
The City Council voted 5-0 on two items: to move forward with EIR work and the acquisition of some land that would be needed for the ballpark. The last item was a MOU that brought more questions than answers among the Council and public speakers. Because of these questions, the Council chose to approve the MOU 4-1, with every Council member expressing reservations in an effort to get a better deal down the road.
A better deal than what, you ask? Let’s break down this $50 million, 9,000-seat ballpark:
- $40 million for ballpark construction
- $5.1 million for remaining land acquisition for the ballpark alone
- $0.4 million for demolition
- $0.5 million for paving a parking lot
- $6 million for additional property acquisition (relocations)
- $5 million for infrastructure
- $0.5 million for current expenses
- $2.5 million for contingency costs
A little addition shows that the cost above totals $60 million, not $50 million as advertised. To help shore this up, Jeff Moorad and his partners will pony up $5 million. That leaves a gap of some $5 million, money that is not accounted for yet. The city is also getting the team to pay a lease of $200,000 annually, adjusted for inflation every 5 years. There’s a serious shortfall between that lease payment and the debt service on the $50 million, though the Council didn’t seem overly concerned, citing revenues from other sources (generally other taxes including tax increment).
There are multiple opportunities for the City to back away from the project. As is customary with big projects, staff were quick to explain that a MOU is not a binding contract, and that if the Council doesn’t approve any of the subsequent necessary steps (lease terms, development agreement), the project won’t move forward. Those decisions aren’t really due until February. While the Council made it clear they want to get a better deal, Moorad was equally clear in his statement as the last speaker of the night. Moorad was not really open to reopening the deal, and he was afraid that the ballpark may not get built due to “death by a thousand paper cuts.” We’ll see if the agreement in the end has any significant material changes. For now, it’s a serious gamble by Escondido, one that will tie up its redevelopment funds for up to 25 years.
The public speaker discussion was, other than for a nasty racial debate component, somewhat reminiscent of what I saw in Fremont. Fremont is a good analogue because like Escondido, it’s trying to make a splash as a city that’s not particularly large. The types of discussions Escondido citizens are having about the ballpark could happen nearly anywhere, and with the San Jose Giants possible moving elsewhere, it’s likely those discussions will happen somewhere else. It’s quite likely that this Escondido deal will create a sort of baseline for what the Giants (Bill Neukom and partners) will ask for elsewhere in the Bay Area.
A Triple-A ballpark is larger than the typical Single-A ballpark. Here’s a partial list of California minor league teams and stadium capacities:
- San Jose Municipal Stadium – 4,200
- Banner Island Ballpark (Stockton) – 5,500, $22 million cost in 2005
- John Thurman Field (Modesto) – 4,000
- Clear Channel Stadium (Lancaster) – 4,600, $14.5 million in 1996
- Raley Field (Sacramento) – 11,000, $42 million in 2000
- Chukchansi Park (Fresno) – 12,500, $46 million in 2002
- Aces Ballpark (Reno, NV) – 9,100, $50 million in 2009
With inflation, a new Single-A park (~5,000 seats) would probably cost somewhere north of $25 million, though land cost could make that price tag vary considerably. Any city that might consider such a project would be smart to have it somewhere there is already a decent amount of public parking, along with BART, Caltrain, or even Capitol Corridor. The North Bay, which I’ve always thought would be a natural fit for a Giants minor league team, has none of those transit options. Yet I don’t consider transportation much of a deterrent, as I expect several groups to come out of the woodwork hoping to land the team if the A’s move to San Jose.
You know what it means if that happens? My work on this blog will NEVER end.
The Trib’s Angela Woodall observed the proceedings today. The result? 3-1 in favor of a full EIR study. As expected, the lone dissenter on the committee was Ignacio De La Fuente. The issue will appear before the Oakland City Council next Tuesday, where it should pass. The one important detail:
In the end, the committee added a provision that allows the city to cancel the contract with LSA Associates and pay only for work that has been finished.
That’s a good safety mechanism to put in place, just in case.
Peerless Coffee is based out of a low-slung, light industrial building built in 1976. Established in 1924, the company has seen it all: wars, boom and bust cycles, and several sports teams. Three generations of the Vukasin family have helmed the company, and they are Oaklanders through and through. They have every intention and desire to continue being a pillar of the Oakland business community. How that can continue with a ballpark proposal lingering in the immediate future is uncertain.
As I approached the building, the aroma of roasting coffee nearly overwhelmed me. I sipped an au lait inside the store as I waited to interview George Vukasin, Jr., who runs the business, and George Vukasin, Sr., who left the company to his children and still is a major presence there. George Sr. is also well known as a major proponent of Oakland and East Bay sports, as he was pivotal in making the Coliseum complex come into being. I sat down in their front office and we talked for nearly two hours. I could’ve easily sat there for another two as George Sr. recounted stories of Oakland sports glories past, but I had to start writing. Maybe another time.
We first talked about how the Coliseum deal was struck. George Sr. happily took on the role of historian, recalling how the late developer Bob Nahas put together a coalition of civic and business interests, including the elder Vukasin, to get a sports showcase built in the East Bay. They quickly focused on a site in East Oakland. The land was undeveloped, with the major owners being the Port of Oakland, EBMUD, and PG&E. Deals were struck with both utilities to maintain easements at the complex while a land swap was negotiated with EBMUD for a parcel on High Street, where the utility’s maintenance yard now resides. The Port of Oakland handled the land deal, as George Sr. was a Port commissioner at the time. The process from first discussion to groundbreaking took 2 years and was unencumbered by CEQA laws or other red tape.
The Coliseum Commission ran the complex for close to three decades. They understood what it took to keep the complex in the black, such as the need for 130 event days at the complex every year. While that should be easy to do with 81+ baseball games, 7-10 football games (sometimes), and 41+ basketball games, occasionally things would run tight. One particular year, Vukasin couldn’t figure out what to do so he called rock promoter Bill Graham and asked for help. Graham magically produced 7 days of Grateful Dead shows at the arena, the proceeds of which allowed the Commission to take care of the debt service.
Around the same time, Amnesty International contacted the Commission about putting on a single concert, which would be held at the stadium. Walter Haas, who had put a good deal of money into renovating the Coliseum, was not particularly fond of having a large number of concertgoers trampling his pristine baseball field, as evidenced by the declining number of Day on the Green concerts during the Haas era. When Amnesty International inquired, Haas and Roy Eisenhardt unequivocally said no. Vukasin and others tracked Haas down at the Pacific Union building in San Francisco, where they asked him to grant permission face-to-face. Haas, ever the gentleman, relented on the spot and the concert was held, as long as there were assurances that the field would be kept in good condition. No contracts, no litigation, just a talk and a handshake.
We shifted topics to Victory Court, and that’s when George Jr. was able to speak more. He was contacted 18 months ago by Mike Ghielmetti and Jim Falaschi, who suggested that Victory Court would be a studied site for a ballpark, and that the Peerless Coffee property was one of the targeted parcels. That led to a meeting with Ghielmetti and the City of Oakland’s real estate manager, Frank Fanelli. Little happened during the meeting, and no direct contact has been made since. Once George Jr. caught a man surveying and measuring the property. The man couldn’t divulge who sent him, and George Jr. asked him to leave. The man got in his car and went around to the back of the property, which is accessible from both Oak and Fallon Streets. George Jr. saw him surveying that side and kicked him off the property for good. To this day the Vukasins don’t know who the appraiser was, let alone who sent him. They asked me who I thought it was, and I guessed that it was MLB, contracting the work as part of its “due diligence.”
I asked why the current site was so crucial, and George Jr. went into great detail about how the business worked. While the plant looks like a 70′s office building from the outside, the nondescript façade hides many unique features that are part and parcel of what makes Peerless Coffee run the way it does. Among the important features:
- The floor is an extra thick concrete pad, which allows the company to stack huge bags of coffee from floor to ceiling without worrying about weight.
- The plant’s location near the port lowers transportation costs.
- Peerless rents out some surplus space in the back, with the knowledge that the space can be repurposed for a plant expansion if need be.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is the process of roasting coffee itself. Peerless does a lot of custom roasting for different clients, such as restaurants and hotels. This makes it important for the company to have extremely precise control over the variables that come into play, from humidity to the shape of the natural gas flame as the beans are being roasted. Roasting the beans an extra five minutes can severely change a coffee’s flavor profile, according to George Sr. George Jr. followed that up, saying that the process is so delicate, a transition period of 18 months would be necessary, including construction time. During that time, both facilities would be running (or under construction), allowing the new plant to work out the kinks and match the old plant’s flavor. The fact that coffee is perishable, coupled with the change of equipment and environment, mandates such a long transition. It’s possible that a lot of product will be wasted along the way. When another coffee roaster built a new plant to replace an old one, it supposedly took 6 months or more after it started operating to “dial in” the flavor properly. Essentially, the coffee is roasted based on the conditions in that exact location. Any changes would require a costly upheaval.
In preparation for what could happen, George Jr. and his sister, Kristina Brouhard, have done the necessary background work just in case. As I was talking with the two Georges, Kristina, an attorney who is also Peerless Coffee’s legal counsel, popped in for a moment and we exchanged pleasantries. They’re getting ready to (and I’m paraphrasing here) man the troops.
That’s not to say that manning of any troops will be needed. I asked the Georges if, as I had suggested last week, a ballpark land grab extended as far out as Fallon Street, instead of the taking of all land between Oak Street and Lake Merritt Channel. They both said they’d be fine with it, though no one has explained to them why all of the land was needed. They’re perfectly content to be neighbors to the ballpark, and their comfort with their specialized operation suggests that they aren’t in this just to hike up the price on their property. George Jr. doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for the business, but he was very clear in saying, “This business is our family.” And right now it’s threatened by the ballpark. Already, customers are asking if Peerless is going out of business, which is clearly not the case. If you think that battling perception is hard now, just wait until the word gets out about a ballpark.
There were plenty of other anecdotes about Wally Haas, Herb Caen, Franklin Mieuli, Ken Hofmann, and strangely enough, former Warriors bust Chris Washburn, who George Sr. said had a “Rolls Royce grille on a Volkswagen.” George Sr. lamented how the revenue chase has made getting a fair stadium deal so difficult. We talked about how genuine Oakland’s (and Let’s Go Oakland’s) efforts were, and I was surprised how much we were all on the same page. There was a bittersweet moment in realizing that it is possible that Oakland, so defined by its sports franchises and full of history, could lose two or all three of them. George Sr. would’ve preferred a ballpark at Howard Terminal. George Jr. would’ve liked a downtown site. They told me how much they appreciated my work, and I thanked them for the time they gave me to discuss the issues. As I got up to leave, George Sr. had the most surprising parting words for me,
You never go over the owner’s head. If you call the commissioner, the first thing he’ll do once he gets off the phone is call the owner.
Coming from a man who has heard and seen it all – especially in Oakland and in dealing with pro sports teams – those are sage words.
A reader alerted me to Andy Dolich’s piece last week in the Biz Ball section of the CSN Bay Area/California website. Dolich goes back through the postwar history of stadia in America, going from the multipurpose bowls of yesteryear to the new single purpose venues of the last twenty years. He then summarizes the current difficulty experienced by California teams when it comes to getting stadia built. After that, he proposes an idea so strange it might have come out of the 60′s: the 49ers, Raiders, and A’s should all share one stadium where the Coliseum currently sits. In supporting this “multi-use” concept, Dolich cites major technological advances, such as the movable seating decks at ANZ Stadium and customizable LED displays used everywhere nowadays.
While Dolich’s sense of history is sound, he left out a major factor that has sent both the NFL and MLB on different tracks. The Neo-Classical ballparks are much smaller in terms of capacity than their predecessors, while the new football stadia are much larger. 40,000 has emerged as a sweet spot for MLB, while 65,000 is preferable for the NFL. No amount of new technology is going to be able to mask or easily move 25,000 seats, not even tarps.
The requirements for baseball and football have diverged so much that it’s hard to envision even attempting to make a multipurpose stadium work these days. Let’s take a look at how the two sports’ requirements differ:
- Proximity to the field. In baseball, it’s customary to have the first row at the same level as the field, or perhaps a foot above the field. In football, the first row may be 6-10 feet above the field.
- Quantity of premium seating. Football stadia tend to have 7,500 club seats and 100-200 suites. Ballparks have 3-4,000 club seats and around 40 suites.
- Confinement. Colder seasons force football stadia to enclose their suites behind glass, whereas ballparks like to take advantage of the summer by putting the seats outside the glassed-in parts of the suites.
- Surfaces. While Field Turf and other advanced artificial surfaces have gotten better at mimicking grass, they’re still far away from being truly comparable for baseball applications. The fake stuff is welcome in football, where there’s no need to worry about having a true ball bounce or roll. If a stadium were to utilize grass, the dirt infield problem emerges.
- Environment aesthetics. In football, the stadium is the scene. In baseball, ballparks are frequently designed take advantage of a pastoral or urban backdrop.
The technology that Dolich espouses does little to address the differences in fan experience that the single purpose venues achieve. For instance, ANZ Stadium‘s movable seating sections could be an inspiration. Prime lower deck seats are mounted on tracks that expand and contract based on each sport’s specifications. It sounds good until you realize that the difference in capacity between ANZ’s rectangular (rugby, soccer) and oval (cricket, Aussie Rules) is only 2,000 seats. As a cricket venue it is severely compromised in terms of dimensions, with far more cricket tests played at Sydney’s older Cricket Ground. Movable seating decks have been employed to mixed success in the United States, the most prominent examples being the Louisiana Superdome and Candlestick Park. Aloha Stadium and Mile High Stadium both had novel methods to move entire seating stands. At Aloha, four double-deck stands either pinched in for football or widened out for baseball. Eventually the stadium was locked into its football configuration, much the same way The Stick’s east stands have been kept in their football mode.
LED displays are great replacements for signage. They make an excellent platform for disseminating game information. But they don’t address the capacity disparity. From a fan experience standpoint, it could be said that the displays are sometimes counterproductive since they are so distracting. Either way, they’re just window dressing.
Dolich uses the current economic state as justification for building a multipurpose stadium. Why bother, if the fan experience will only be marginally better than the current stadium, and will always be compared to superior experiences at single purpose venues? Dolich worked for the 49ers as a consultant to help improve the experience at The Stick, and was not particularly prominent in the selling of the new stadium to Santa Clara residents. He was unceremoniously let go at the beginning of this calendar year, and now he’s practically endorsing an alternative to the plan. If this were the 60′s, when both baseball and football were played in 50,000-seat ashtrays, it might be feasible. Times have changed. Until someone figures out how to make 25,000 seats disappear, the idea is not really worthy of discussion.
I don’t know if it’s divine intervention for Brett Favre or symmetry with the Minnesota Vikings’ season. Either way, this video of the Metrodome’s roof collapsing is awesome.
The game has been rescheduled for Monday night at Detroit’s Ford Field. The teams could’ve played at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, but the smaller capacity stadium (50,000 vs. 64,000 for the Metrodome) would’ve caused ticketing problems and the visiting Giants had not brought any cold weather gear (of course not, they were going to play in dome). Still, they should’ve played at TCF, if only to give Vikings fans a taste of what it was like to watch a game outdoors, as they did at the Met for 20 years.