Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: MINNESOTA VIKINGS...New Stadium Update

  1. #1
    All Pro
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Fairfield County, CT

    MINNESOTA VIKINGS...New Stadium Update

    ARDEN HILLS, Minn. — For decades, N.F.L. teams, including those in Arizona, Ohio and Texas, have persuaded taxpayers to help them cover most of the costs of their new stadiums. The Minnesota Vikings, whose roof on their current home, the Metrodome, collapsed spectacularly last winter, are no different.

    But the Vikings’ pitch stands apart from other N.F.L. stadium deals because it is running headlong into a vastly different economic and political landscape. In a state whose financial hardships were so severe that the Legislature shut down state services for several weeks over the summer, a franchise in the $9 billion N.F.L. is asking the public to pay about 60 percent of the cost of a $1.1 billion stadium that would be built here, about 10 miles north of the Twin Cities.

    The country’s most popular sport is colliding with the country’s emergent political philosophy: smaller government and lower taxes.

    “We have to ask whether this is really a good use of the money,” said King Banaian, one of more than 30 Republicans to join Minnesota’s House of Representatives this year and a professor who teaches sports economics at St. Cloud State University. “Should we be supporting a new stadium over higher education? It’s simply not a priority. These deals are, by and large, giveaways to millionaires and billionaires.”

    Out of the Vikings’ effort over several years to get a new stadium has come the latest in a series of proposals to build the team an indoor facility on the state’s largest Superfund site, an abandoned Army munitions plant opened during World War II. The team is offering to pay more than $400 million toward the cost of the stadium, as well as any overruns. It hopes also to get the potentially lucrative rights to develop an adjoining 170 acres, and revenue from any naming rights and personal seat licenses.

    In flush times, many politicians might have backed such a project if only to avoid standing in the way of a hometown icon, especially one that could conceivably move to sunnier places, like Los Angeles, which is trying to woo an N.F.L. team.

    But these are not flush times, particularly in Minnesota, the home of Representative Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party stalwart. While the Democratic governor and leaders from the Republican-controlled Legislature try to find the votes for the $300 million in state money needed to complete the deal, an alliance of land-use advocates, fiscal conservatives and liberals has joined hands in opposition.

    One of them is Chris Coleman, the mayor of St. Paul, who said he opposes the stadium plan because residents in his city would be forced to pay higher sales taxes but not reap the benefits of a stadium in Arden Hills.

    “If public participation in the investment made it more affordable for the family to attend the games, I’d be for it,” he said. “The economics are really screwy.”

    The tug of war over whether to help the Vikings may last through the end of the season, when the team’s lease expires at the Metrodome, which opened in 1982. The Vikings say they will not sign a new lease unless there is a deal in place to build them a new home in Arden Hills. (The Twins, who used to play in the Metrodome, signed a series of one-year leases while they waited for their new park to open.)

    But a vote on state financing for a new stadium did not come up this summer, when the government was shut down for nearly three weeks as lawmakers tried to close a $5 billion deficit. Gov. Mark Dayton is willing to call a special session this fall, but only if he has enough votes on an amended bill, which he does not appear to have at the moment.

    Complicating matters, some Republicans want a referendum on the $350 million contribution from Ramsey County, where the stadium would be situated. Given the public’s distaste for higher taxes — the county hopes to pay for its share by raising the local sales tax by half a cent — a referendum would probably fail.

    Tony Bennett, a Ramsey County commissioner and chief backer of the stadium deal, bemoaned what he said was the stridency of many politicians. He said they failed to see the benefits of turning a toxic eyesore into an income-producing property that would provide thousands of jobs and produce millions of dollars in new taxes.

    “It’s going to kick-start the economy,” he said as he gave a tour of the site, which still has telephone lines and fire hydrants, but also land soaked with industrial solvents. “Too much is in this not to do it.”

    Zygi Wilf, the Vikings’ principal owner, said he was only asking for equal treatment with the Twins, who moved to Target Field, which was publicly financed. The sum the Vikings are willing to spend on the stadium is among the highest contributions of any N.F.L. team to a new stadium, Wilf said.

    The Vikings, he added, generate tens of millions of dollars in taxes that would be lost if the team left, though Wilf has been careful to avoid any talk about moving the team if he does not get a new stadium. Even if he wanted to leave town, the N.F.L., which would have to sign off on any move, prefers that the Vikings stay in Minnesota, where there are avid fans and several key advertisers.

    “It’s a strong market that has very strong demographics and a very good history,” said Marc Ganis, the president of SportsCorp, a consultant. “They’ve only got one issue: the state is broke and it doesn’t want to contribute money.”

    That is one reason Wilf has appealed to the community’s emotional attachment to the team.

    “How many of you have been touched to your fiber at some time in your lives because of the Minnesota Vikings?” Wilf said during a recent luncheon at the St. Paul Rotary Club, and about two-thirds of the audience raised a hand. “We realize that we’re not just the owners of a proud franchise, but we’re really stewards of a franchise for the benefit of all the fans who have been touched by the Minnesota Vikings.”

    Wanting to keep the Vikings in Minnesota is one thing; spending scarce dollars to help them build a new stadium is another.

    According to a poll by The Star Tribune in May, more than 60 percent of those surveyed said the Vikings should continue playing at the Metrodome and almost three-quarters said public money should not be used to help build a new stadium.

    “I think the Vikings franchise can afford the stadium,” said Carey Goedel, a fan from New Prague who, as a zookeeper, was furloughed during the state shutdown. “It’s not fair to make the general public that might not care about sports pay for it.”

    If lawmakers fail to broker a deal, it will not be the first time a team failed to win public concessions. Seattle turned its back on the N.B.A.’s SuperSonics, who left for Oklahoma City soon after. The Rams left California for St. Louis, which offered the team a new, domed stadium. The Colts left Baltimore for greener fields in Indianapolis. Baltimore turned around and lured the Browns to town.

    While Wilf said he was focused on getting a deal done in Minnesota, the Vikings would certainly attract interest from other cities. New and bigger stadiums are the currency that fuel sports teams, so, unsurprisingly, the Vikings, who play in an aging facility, are one of the least valuable franchises in the N.F.L. According to Forbes, the team is worth $796 million, 28th among 32 teams. The Vikings barely turned a profit last year, earning $3.7 million in operating income. The Vikings are the fourth most indebted franchise.

    Despite the uphill fight to win over legislators, Ted Mondale, the governor’s chief negotiator in the stadium debate, said that labor unions, construction companies and corporate executives already back the stadium plan. He emphasized that the stadium would not be corporate welfare and that everything, including naming rights, parking and development rights, was on the table. Opponents need to understand that the state’s investment will generate far greater returns, and that the cost of doing nothing would be far worse, he said.

    “It’s tough to do this in a recession,” Mondale said. But “if you lose an N.F.L. team, you look like a loser city.”

  2. #2
    All League
    Join Date
    May 2003
    I don't understand why they don't look into renovating the Metrodome. It is a relatively new structure (> 30 years old) and it seems to me $400 mil could go a long way toward upgrading the place. The Vikings could rent the U of Minn's new stadium for a season or two during the upgrade. I know it's not ideal for Wilf, but at some point you have to deal with the reality of the times while doing what's best for your fans. Minnesota is a traditional NFL market and it would be criminal to move that team. Green Bay did a pretty nice job renovating Lambeau, as did Chicago with Soldier Field, and Anaheim and KC (MLB). I thought the Jets should have tried to do something like that with Shea while it still stood... but I digress.

    Goodell needs to step in and lead on this before LA gets the Vikings.

  3. #3
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    The Big Apple, USA
    Welcome to Southern California, your Los Angeles Vikings

  4. #4
    All Pro
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    great midwest -well not so great
    what dickweed says...


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Follow Us