With Gophers and Twins stadiums built, will the Vikings be next?

With the preseason home opener next week, fans will be getting their first look at the Dome since the Twins moved.
MinnPost photo by Steve Berg
With the preseason home opener next week, fans will be getting their first look at the Dome since the Twins moved.

Been by the Metrodome lately?

Somebody has taken a paintbrush to the place. It’s now partly purple and tarted up with gaudy Vikings posters like something out of “Friday Night Lights.” Think of it as a clever strategy for a new stadium: Make the old place look even tackier in the desperate hope that people will fall to their knees and beg, “Please, please! We’ll do anything to get rid of this eyesore!”

With the preseason home opener coming next week, fans will be getting their first look at the Dome since the Twins opened their tasteful new digs on the other end of downtown. It won’t be a pleasant comparison, even for tailgaters who’ve been drinking for hours.

Actually, the Dome may have only two football seasons left in it before somebody gets to push the plunger. (Torii Hunter has volunteered.)

Zygi Wilf
REUTERS/Eric Miller
Zygi Wilf

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf insists his team won’t play at the Dome in 2012. The team’s lease expires after the 2011 season, setting up all kinds of intriguing scenarios. A new stadium, preferably on the same site, would be nice in the abstract. But the state is up against a $6 billion budget shortfall. Chances of prying loose the half-billion dollars it would take to strike a deal seem fairly remote. Hennepin County, meanwhile, the only local government big enough to play the stadium game, is feeling tapped out after stepping in to help the Twins.

That leaves Los Angeles, a mega-market with no NFL team. But the situation there is cloudy, too. Ed Roski, the real estate tycoon, had hoped by now to have poached a team from another city and to have begun construction on Los Angeles Stadium, a privately financed, fully approved outdoor bowl 20 miles east of downtown. But his effort has been slowed by the NFL’s focus on signing a labor deal with the players’ union, and by the emergence of a competing downtown proposal.

Tim Leiweke, whose company runs Staples Center, home of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings, and Casey Wasserman, the sports agent, are heading the downtown effort. Few details have been made public, but it looks like a showdown between Roski and Leiweke, who’s been instrumental in rebuilding downtown LA. A new privately financed downtown stadium would have a retractable roof and double as part of the city’s convention and entertainment complex.

Putting the vision ahead of the deal
Lacking Southern California’s private sector muscle, a Vikings stadium in the Twin Cities — as in most NFL markets — would require public money. But focusing almost entirely on the financial deal was a big reason why it took the Twins more than a decade to get approval for their new ballpark.

Arne Carlson
Arne Carlson

Maybe there’s something the Vikings can learn from the Twins’ experience. As part of a book project, I asked former Gov. Arne Carlson why the baseball team stumbled so badly in the early years of its quest. “The vision and the public buy-in should have come before the financing and the politics,” he told me. There was no clear vision of how a ballpark should look, where it should be and what a ballgame experience would be like, he said. Finding the money should have come after those things were set in the public mind.

I think Carlson’s point is a good one. Considering the rave reviews Target Field has been getting — ESPN magazine named it the nation’s top sports experience — the Vikings must vividly describe the game-day experience at a new football stadium and talk about specific benefits to the community. Now, with Target Field, people more clearly understand the Metrodome’s deficiencies. Before they agree to kick in for a new football stadium, however, they need to know precisely what they would be getting.

Horner comes close to offering a plan
It’s notable that none of the three candidates for governor is expressly opposed to a new Vikings stadium. Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer say they hope a deal can be struck as long as it doesn’t involve general-fund money. Independent Tom Horner has been the most forthcoming. He has listed four principles.

• The issue should be solved in the next legislative session, starting in January. No core services should be sacrificed. That includes economic development, job creation, education, health care, human services, infrastructure and the environment. The NFL must also resolve its labor issues before a bill is passed.

• A stadium should emerge from a partnership among the Vikings, the NFL, the business community and the public. The team must agree to a 40-year lease and to paying 40 percent of a new stadium’s capital costs and well as covering a third of its operating expenses. The stadium’s public owners should receive all revenues from non-Vikings events, including ticket sales, concessions, suite rentals and in-stadium advertising.

• Multiple funding options should be considered to cover the estimated $32 million to $34 million annual state cost on repaying 40-year bonds. Those who benefit most should pay most, meaning that taxes on tickets and drinks, and revenues from nonfootball events should be used to cover the costs.

• If the team is sold, any accrued value should be shared with the public in a proportion based on the public contribution.

Horner doesn’t specify a location (the Vikings’ current plan prefers the Metrodome site), but he does speak eloquently about the team as an asset. “Our state is blessed with an abundance of major league resources — from our lakes and parks to our theaters and museums. The Vikings are such an asset,” he says.

Horner suggests a stadium would bring in $26 million in annual tax revenues, create new construction jobs and attract other major sports and convention events. “But equally important,” he says, “are the intangible benefits of a team that for the past half-century has helped create a sense of statewide community and is an important asset in attracting and retaining top talent to Minnesota in all walks of life.”

Sounds like Horner is on board — except for the vision part.

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Comments (44)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/19/2010 - 08:44 am.

    “• The issue should be solved in the next legislative session, starting in January. No core services should be sacrificed. That includes economic development, job creation, education, health care, human services, infrastructure and the environment. The NFL must also resolve its labor issues before a bill is passed.”

    The legislature cannot pass a stadium bill while it closes hospitals. The politics of that is simply unacceptable.

  2. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 08/19/2010 - 09:10 am.

    The Twins and Gophers stadiums should serve as two examples of the opposite extremes on how these things should be done.

    The Twins stadium is a model of lovely architecture, perfect situation, and great integration into the city. The games – played every other night all spring, summer and fall – have brought in people from around the state and enlivened the entire west side of downtown. You can feel the enthusiasm on any game night. Yes, cost tax payers, but at least it was spread out some and we got library improvements for our troubles.

    The Gophers stadium was built on the backs of students who were already facing huge tuition increases so that a half dozen games could be played each year by people who are supposed to be studying anyways. It is boring, expensive, and stands alone in a field on the edge of campus.

    Really, the two shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/19/2010 - 09:11 am.

    The fundamental reality of Vikings economics is that in financial terms, a good deal for the Vikings, is going to be a very costly deal for Minnesota’s taxpayers. There is simply no way you can financially justify building a huge stadium for a team that plays only 8 real games a year.

    Given this reality, what do stadium proponents do? They develop a political strategy designed to confuse and obscure it. They develop a long list of bullet points, which will have little to do with the deal that ultimately gets done, or the price Minnesotans will ultimately pay to keep the Vikings in town.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/19/2010 - 09:27 am.

    I never understood why we built the Gophers stadium. The Metrodome, located just a few blocks from the U was perfectly adequate for their purposes. Unlike the Vikings, the Gophers couldn’t move. And has been made clear after the fact, the new stadium has done nothing to revive the University’s historically moribund football program, while diverting money from the University’s real mission, educating the kids of Minnesota.

    The money blown on the Gopher Stadium would have served as a very nice down payment on a new, state of the art, football stadium where both the Vikings and Gophers could have played.

    Oh well.

  5. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 08/19/2010 - 09:36 am.

    In particular, the most irritating part is the fact that we’re having a real discussion about building two separate stadiums within a couple of years of each other, each to host a few games a year. If there could have been one, maybe it could have been justified, but this is absurd. If the Gophers one needs a a couple thousand more seats, fine, add them on.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/19/2010 - 11:16 am.

    Yes, whatever you do, DON’T talk about the financial aspects building stadium. Reality may ruin the fantasy. I hope this long and horrendous epoch of stadium well fare programs for billionaires as finally run out of rope.

  7. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/19/2010 - 11:27 am.

    The state can’t afford to hire enough public defenders to properly ensure the people’s right to a fair trial and the Vikings think the public should buy them a new playground? This is insane.

  8. Submitted by Howard Salute on 08/19/2010 - 11:54 am.

    Great picture of Arne! I didn’t realize MinnPost’s archives were so deep. Anyway, always fun to go back in time.

  9. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/19/2010 - 12:51 pm.

    The 40-year lease Horner is proposing is not realistic. It would not serve the best interests of the Vikings, businesses, sports fans or the general public.

    The Vikings got major concessions 20 years into their current 30-year Metrodome lease. What are the chances they’d live up to the terms of a 40-year lease?

    What will the state-of-the-art NFL stadium look like 30 years from today? Do we really want 10 more years of payments due on an obsolete stadium 30 years from now?

    The Vikings have suggested a possible 40-year “flexible” lease. What is that? We need a 30-year “ironclad” lease.

    …and why didn’t the Twins and Vikings work in partnership to build side-by-side stadium? The cost savings vs. three stand-alone stadium would have exceeded $1 BILLION. I haven’t had the heart to take down the twindomes.com website yet…

  10. Submitted by Susan Lesch on 08/19/2010 - 01:10 pm.

    “Now, with Target Field, people more clearly understand the Metrodome’s deficiencies. Before they agree to kick in for a new football stadium, however, they need to know precisely what they would be getting.”

    Well, this is an assertion by the author, Mr. Berg. MinnPost gave you a headline to advance your view but you can only speak for yourself not for the “people”.

  11. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/19/2010 - 03:38 pm.

    My son would like to run a skatepark. Can he have the Dome when the Vikings are done with it?

  12. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 08/19/2010 - 04:46 pm.

    I have yet to hear a good reason (or any, except the one hinted above about the number of seats) that the Vikings can’t play in the university’s new football palace.

    To the best of my knowledge, the Gophers’ games are on Saturday, the Vikings’ games are on Sunday (and one on a Monday evening).

    As my first sentence suggests, I’m not a neutral observer; I view the U of M stadium as a huge waste of money having nothing to do with education. Having the Vikings play there would at least double its extremely limited use. That also would be a boost to the U, which could gain some badly needed income as it collects more from its parking ramps.

    Any problem about liquor sales could be dealt with in a number of ways, some proper, some as improper as overriding the referendum requirement in order to use public money to build a ballfield for a (multi) billionare.

  13. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/19/2010 - 04:55 pm.

    James… there’s a reason why the Vikings don’t want the Metrodome for only $1 if they actually had to use it and stay in MN.

    I doubt your son could afford the maint. & operating expenses.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/19/2010 - 05:58 pm.

    “I have yet to hear a good reason (or any, except the one hinted above about the number of seats) that the Vikings can’t play in the university’s new football palace.”

    The Gopher Stadium doesn’t have enough seats, and it doesn’t have nearly enough luxury suites. In terms of keeping the Vikings here, a possible move to the Gopher Stadium is a total non starter.

    The financial structure of the league has changed in recent years. Because the price of teams has gone up, they need to generate more revenue, and the only way to do that is build ever more elaborate stadiums.

  15. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/19/2010 - 06:23 pm.

    Neal… TCF Bank Stadium is a collegiate stadium, NOT a pro-style stadium. It will not generate the kinds of revenues the Vikings need to remain competitive.

    One example is the number of “Club” seats… TCF has about 1200 “Club” seats… the Vikings want 8000 to 8500.

    Are you aware the Vikings want a subsidy for lost revenues when they play two seasons in TCF while Metrodome Next is being built?

    College teams can play in pro-style stadium without a subsidy for lost revenues…. pro teams cannot play in college-style stadium and compete financially without a subsidy for lost revenues.

  16. Submitted by William Souder on 08/19/2010 - 06:25 pm.

    Well, speaking of people who are “on board” in favor a new, publicly-financed Vikings stadium, it would appear the list should prominently feature Steve Berg. Is this a news story or an advance advertisement for another book? I wonder, too, if the majority of Minnesotans who consistently opposed public financing of Target Field (the construction of which only happened when the voters were disenfranchised in the process)would agree with its characterization as “tasteful.”

  17. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 08/19/2010 - 07:20 pm.

    Sure lets hand a few hundred million over to a bunch of spoiled millionaires, so they’ll allow us to shell out a hundred bucks for a ticket, $9.50 for a 3.2 beer and 6 bucks for a salmonella laced hotdog.

    We seem to have lost our dignity.

  18. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/19/2010 - 09:54 pm.

    William… The referendum “waiver” was the most egregious part of the Twins stadium legislation, but none of the four Hennepin County commissioners who asked for the “waiver” were held to account by voters for their actions and neither was Governor Pawlenty who held his nose and signed the legislation with a “new” Hennepin County tax and the referendum “waiver” he said he opposed.

  19. Submitted by Rick Prescott on 08/20/2010 - 01:37 am.

    With all due respect to the justifiably indignant anti-stadium folks, what makes you think that arguments about hospitals, schools and public defenders (or even dignity) will work this time when they have never worked in the past?

    Understand this: There WILL be a new stadium for professional football in the Twin Cities. It will either be built now for the Vikings, or 10 years from now to lure another team. History has shown us this time and time again. (Forget about TCF Bank Stadium. That would be a marriage made in hell for too many reasons to list.)

    No matter how valid your argument or how passionate, there is a human nature issue at work here. Professional sports engage an irrational but apparently essential part of our collective being. They cause us to make decisions that we know we should not make. Always have, always will. YOU personally may not care about the Vikings, but YOU as a community clearly do. And that trumps everything rational.

    So, acknowledging that this is really just a game of kick-the-can, the best thing to do is build it sooner rather than later (when it’s cheaper), and get the very best possible deal for the public in the process. Get a long lease, maybe an ownership stake, right of first refusal on purchase, keep the general fund off-limits, find an innovative revenue stream to tap, make the team pay for cost overruns or anything fancy — it’s basically the deal that the Twins made. In the industry, that deal is generally regarded as one of the best any government has struck with a pro sports team in decades. And now we’ve got a chance to create one that’s even better.

    It’s a complicated negotiation, but walking away from the table will cost REAL money, and more real money the longer this is delayed. The anti-Twins-stadium crowd managed to stall the project for over a decade while simultaneously doubling the price and subtracting a roof. (Right now the Twins would be playing their 10th season in a $325MM retractable-roof stadium on the current Guthrie Theater site had the 1997 bill passed in the Legislature.)

    Knowing the inevitable outcome should focus all parties to negotiate hard now and just get it done. For those who think the whole thing is a waste of money, your objections and obstruction only make it worse. Polls about what people say they’re willing to pay mean a whole lot less than TV ratings and a perpetually sold out Metrodome.

    This is not an ideological conversation. It is entirely fiscal. The crowd has already spoken. It’s time to just get on with it already.

  20. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 08/20/2010 - 03:34 am.

    Well, folks, by the tone of these comments I see that any chance of the Vikings staying beyond the present lease is nebulous at best. Where is that Minnesota can-do ethic that this state is noted for? Where is the vision for the future of great things to come? Your MinnPost discussion points maybe cogent and germane to the Vikings stadium issues at hand but where are the plausible solutions to avoid an impending crisis?

    Somewhere in a college philosophy class or math class I was taught the Occam’s Razor Principle. When faced with a difficult insurmountable problem (with various solutions[if any]) with all controvertible things/ contributing factors being equalized or simplified the simplest most direct solution is the way to proceed. In the case of the Vikings stadium that solution is easy.

    The state and people of Minnesota build and own a multi-purpose 365 day/year around public works stadium with the Vikings the major tenant. Financing this state of the art facility will be with state subsidies, stimulus funding, Federal grants, an across the board .50% state sales tax, a Vikings ‘contribution’ of 35%-40% facility costs, a Vikings 40-year facility lease contract, and the right to manage/run the facility and keep revenues for all events except football. (This financing plan is independent of the state’s present fiscal crises!)

    This facility will be a publicly owned self-sustaining entity with a sole purpose is to generate revenues and pay for itself.

    If the present Vikings ownership wants to sell the franchise and move on before their contractual obligations are met and/or the facility totally paid for–the 40-year lease agreement must be paid in full and the “Minnesota Vikings” name becomes property of the people of Minnesota. In other words, there is a lien on the Vikings so they can’t skip the state. Other business deals or arrangements can be hammered out later but with the sole purpose that the stadium must generate revenues and pay for itself.

    Before some of you naysayers get on your soapboxes and scream ‘penalty’ on me, I realize that the state is broke and there are far pressing issues that must be solved. No argument there but why can’t all this economic problem solving coincide with the stadium dilemma before us? In other words, everyone concerned will have to multi-task to get this state on its feet again. There has to be creative dynamic efforts to make this state rise above petty politics, provincial/parochial thinking, and become a solvent state again.

    Let’s do “Minnesota proud” and rise above the present economic turmoil and vicious political infighting. There are jobs at stake, revenue streams to generate, economic impact issues to be created or solved, and a quality of living to be improved. Are you willing to do your part? Let’s do it!!!

    (No, I am NOT running for office nor am I a conservative or liberal. I am just an independent who wants to see his state do great things and is willing to help it do so.)

  21. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/20/2010 - 07:28 am.

    “With all due respect to the justifiably indignant anti-stadium folks, what makes you think that arguments about hospitals, schools and public defenders (or even dignity) will work this time when they have never worked in the past?”

    Vikings-wise they have worked well, and they worked well against the Twins Stadium for a long time. No one who as argued against stadiums on an economic or financial basis has ever lost the argument. The key to success for stadium proponents is to find ways around those arguments. The tactic chosen in the article above is confusion, to throw out a lot of really complicated ideas, most of which are total non-starters, but which have the effect of confusing the public, and making the price we actually have to pay impossible to determine. That strategy may be helpful here but it wasn’t what got the Twins Stadium built. In the Twins case, the key was to find a level of government with the power to make the deal, but also willing to take the political heat. After a long search, the Hennepin County Board, a non-partisan entity comprised of political dead enders, fit the bill.

  22. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 07:29 am.

    Rick… I agree with most things you say, but why are general funds revenues off limits to so many people?

    I happen to think passing legislation with a “new” revenue stream (like the Twins stadium legislation) when legislation with “new” revenue streams to cover much more important need was not passed is more egregious than using established tax revenues. Shouldn’t the passage of “new” taxed or Racino be easier for things like education, health & human services, etc.?

    I would limit the state’s contribution to the truly “but for” revenues generated by the Vikings playing in MN.

    Player state income tax (approx. $12 million/yr) is a good example of “but for” revenues since the player salaries are covered by the NFL’s shared national TV and sponsorship revenues (somewhere in the $150 million/yr range). That money would follow the Vikings to LA or elsewhere if we lose them.

  23. Submitted by John Olson on 08/20/2010 - 07:46 am.

    The talking points remain essentially the same since the last time we had this discussion. What has changed is that the state budget is in worse shape, voters are more cynical, and the likelihood of no NFL games in 2011 has increased.

    By nearly any measure, the NFL is a marketing juggernaut. I’ll be happy to defer to brighter minds on the nuances of the differences of opinion between the players and the owners, but it seems to me that the core of the issues to be resolved center on revenue sharing between the teams in small to medium-sized markets and the “big boys.”

    Once those issues are resolved through the collective bargaining process and the Wilf family has a better idea of their finances after a collective bargaining agreement is reached, then it makes sense to have a serious discussion of stadium options.

  24. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 07:52 am.

    Francis… there are three plausible Vikings stadium issue outcomes.

    #1… No deal and Zygi moves the franchise or sells to someone who moves the franchise.

    #2… A “sweetheart” deal

    #3… A deal that good for the Vikings, businesses, sports fans, and the general public.

    Sorry to say this, but it appears Zygi wants a “sweetheart” deal or no deal. He paid $600 million for the franchise and can easily sell it for at least $900 million (the average NFL franchise is valued at over $1 billion by Forbes), pocket a $300 million profit and sing “Don’t Cry for Me, Minnesota” all the way to the bank.

    Team owners make new stadiums a reality, not politicians!!

    Look at the Cowboys’ stadium funding (70% of the funding is from private sources) and look at the measure that was recently passed in Santa Clara for a new 49ers stadium (only 12% funding from public sources). The ownership of both teams spent $5 million on campaigns to win voter approval…

  25. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 08:01 am.

    All of the major gubernatorial candidates think resolving the Vikings stadium issue is important, but none seem to have a viable solution or a logical plan to find a solution.

  26. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 08:26 am.

    For the logic I would apply to the funding of a new Vikings stadium, go to our now obsolete Twindomes.com website… click on the stadium proposal link on the left hand column of the “home” page and go to page 10 of the proposal.

    Instead of 20% public / 80% private venture funding, I now think it should be one third public and two-thirds private.

  27. Submitted by William Souder on 08/20/2010 - 09:41 am.

    I suspect those commenters arguing that a Vikings stadium is inevitable are probably right. We can hope it doesn’t involve public financing, but that hope is slight. What I do think we should expect is better journalistic judgment than MinnPost exercised in choosing to run Steve Berg’s slanted, booterish piece. In yesterday’s story, Berg alluded to a book project that one strongly suspects might involve a new Vikings stadium. If that’s the case, his conflict of interest is undeniable. Since when is it okay for reporters to pimp a commercial enterprise in which they have a stake? Even if Berg is not doing a book about a Vikings stadium, the story failed to meet the most minimal standards of journalist balance. Having been an enthusiastic reader of MinnPost since its inception…not to mention an occasional contributor…I was deeply disappointed. I think MinnPost owes its readers an explanation.

  28. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 09:52 am.

    William… Jay Weiner will most likely provide the balanced stadium coverage you’re seeking.

  29. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/20/2010 - 10:16 am.

    I don’t know if a new Vikings Stadium is inevitable. The timing is just so difficult. The lease is just about up, Zygi will have great offers on the table immediately, and the politics of building a new and luxurious stadium while we are closing hospitals and nursing homes is just horrible.

    I certainly don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about publishing Steve’s article. I happen to think most of the ideas he presents are non starters, but then, most ideas are non starters. I don’t believe it’s part of the charter of Minnpost.com that they must at all times agree with me.

    Steve throws out some substantive ideas. The problem with stadium debates isn’t that we have too many such ideas, the problem is that we have too few.

  30. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 11:27 am.

    I think there’s no good time for a bad stadium deal and no bad time for a good stadium deal.

    My definition of a “good” stadium deal is a deal that’s good for the Vikings, businesses, sports fans, and the general public. It’s a winX4 deal.

    If everyone comes out ahead, why not pass stadium legislation during bad economic times? Wouldn’t it be worse to lose the tax revenues the Vikings generate and lose the franchise too?

    A “sweetheart” deal is NOT a “good” stadium deal.

  31. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/20/2010 - 12:16 pm.

    Well the relative goodness or badness of the deal hardly matters when politically, we aren’t in a position to make any kind of deal at all. The frustrating thing about stadium issues at any given time is directly related to the strength of each party’s bargaining position. The strongest bargaining point we had was the lease, that the Vikings were contractually committed to play here for a certain period of time. The problem with that is that it was a wasting asset, as each day passed, our position became weaker and the Vikings position became stronger. We could have gotten a better deal yesterday than today. The deal that we can get tomorrow is worse than the one we could get today. And there isn’t any possible deal capable of being accepted that won’t be expensive for Minnesota taxpayers.

    I think if we look at the situation, we can reach a deal that won’t be too damaging. But less learn a lesson from the Twins negotiation where political intransigence, and indeed political demagoguery, at the end of the day, did nothing more than produce just about the worst possible deal for Hennepin County and it’s taxpayers, which nonetheless, resulted in a stadium that everyone seems to like.

  32. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 12:23 pm.

    This year’s MN House of Representatives State Fair Poll question about the stadium issue.

    5. The Minnesota Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season. Should public dollars be used to help pay for a new facility?

    What genius came up with this feeble question?

    Are we talking 1% public funding or 100% public funding or anywhere in-between?

    Wouldn’t a better question be… Do you think your elected officials are willing and able to negotiate a stadium deal that’s good for the state, businesses, sports fans, and the Vikings?

  33. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/20/2010 - 12:24 pm.

    “If everyone comes out ahead, why not pass stadium legislation during bad economic times?”

    Hardly anyone comes out ahead on stadium deals, except ballplayers who live in other jurisdictions. The problem is that the state of Minnesota in the next biennium, is looking at a budgetary shortfall that amounts to about 20% of the budget. In the best of circumstances, balancing that budget will translate into huge cuts in hospitals and nursing homes, which incidentally contribute for more to the economy than stadiums.

    I like having the Vikings here. I think letting them go will be a mistake, and that in a different political environment it might be possible to keep them. But it is a question of priorities, and given the choice between bread and circuses the politics of the day imposes on us, I will reluctantly choose bread.

  34. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/20/2010 - 12:41 pm.

    This is about public dollars, and I think that’s a disputed issue for many people, one that will get a divided response in the poll.

    “Do you think your elected officials are [or “should be”] willing and able to negotiate a stadium deal that’s good for the state, businesses, sports fans, and the Vikings?”

    The problem with this as a poll question is that it’s hard to imagine anyone answering no. And a poll question that doesn’t show a dispute when in fact there is one, isn’t a very interesting poll question.

  35. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 12:56 pm.

    How could limiting the state’s stadium contribution to only the true “but for” tax revenues generated by the Vikings possibly be a bad deal for the general public?

    I’m talking about a “use or lose” situation. Use the funds to help fund a new stadium or lose the funds and the Vikings franchise.

    Just one example of “but for” revenues is the player state income tax which currently amounts to about $12 million/yr and will rise over time.

    The $150 million in NFL money from national TV and sponsorships fund player salaries. That $150 million would follow the Vikings to LA or elsewhere if we don’t agree on a stadium deal.

    Hiram… Would you be opposed to state stadium contribution of $12 million or less based on those facts?

    I think most people are opposed to any public stadium funding because they don’t believe legislators are capable of negotiating a stadium deal that’s good for the general public.

  36. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 01:02 pm.

    Hiram… I find it hard to imagine more than a few answering “yes” to my question.

    “Do you think your elected officials are willing and able to negotiate a stadium deal that’s good for the state, businesses, sports fans, and the Vikings?”

    Do you consider the Twins stadium deal good for all stakeholders?

  37. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/20/2010 - 01:13 pm.

    I would take that deal. The problem is that deal doesn’t approach anything the Vikings would find acceptable. The problem is that the deal we would like to have bears little resemblance to a deal that would keep the Vikings here.

    I will say, a problem with many of Steve’s original proposals is that they require a set of skills public officials don’t have and shouldn’t need to have.

  38. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/20/2010 - 01:54 pm.

    As a deal, I thought the twins deal was a very bad deal for hennepin county. Basically, we agreed to pay a tax to take a valuable piece of property off the rolls in order to subsidize the bar business at Cuzzie’s. But I think the reason for that was that the issue became so heavily politicized that the issue got shifted to the Hennepin county board, who had little to lose politically by making the bad deal they did.

  39. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/20/2010 - 04:04 pm.

    Does anyone remember the citizen driven referendum vote in 1997 that placed a $10 million limit on a City of Minneapolis stadium contribution unless there’s an approved referendum vote?

    One of the two stadium plans that didn’t make it thru the committee process this year involved city sales tax revenues that far exceeded $10 million/yr for 40 years… Nobody mentioned the need for a referendum to fund a Vikings stadium this way.

    Are the Vikings trying to repeat the Twins’ “end run” around the “will of the People” by having state legislators pass yet another bill that “waives” a referendum requirement?

  40. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/22/2010 - 10:55 am.

    “Are the Vikings trying to repeat the Twins’ “end run” around the “will of the People” by having state legislators pass yet another bill that “waives” a referendum requirement?”

    I am sure they will try anything they think will work. My personal opinion is that the “end run” that worked for the Twins, going through the Hennepin County Board won’t work this time. Even those guys realize the taxpayers of Hennepin County can’t take another discriminatory tax hit, especially given the fact that a new Vikings Stadium is a much greater economic liability than the Twins Stadium.

    I just don’t see how the politics works for the Vikings. I know I was furious when Sen. Bakk floated his Vikings Stadium trial balloon at the end of the session. Sen. Bakk”s love for stadiums other people have to pay for, is well known. With both the legislature and Hennepin County off the table, where is the governmental entity that can partner with the Vikings in the short time frame needed to get the deal done?

  41. Submitted by Susan Lesch on 08/22/2010 - 05:13 pm.

    Sadly MinnPost has gone over the edge. Mr. Weiner, who is a respected journalism teacher as I understand it, moved from skeptic to Mr. Berg’s position. MinnPost evidently has put me in the fringe of people who think that no public funds should be spent on sports stadiums.

    I don’t like downtown inundated with people wearing cookie-cutter t-shirts (they either say “Mauer” or “Morneau”) all walking the same direction in lockstep. I do like it when people stop and think for themselves.

    One thing they might think is that Minnesota passed a statute §121A.04 to ensure that “the variety and selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the demonstrated interests of members of both sexes”. Who put up statues all over downtown of male baseball players? The “public art” people? If I knew for sure who is responsible and for the electric signs saying “Ballpark Event Today”, I might boycott the businesses who paid for them.


  42. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/22/2010 - 06:02 pm.

    Zygi has shown absolutely no interesting in negotiating a stadium deal that’s good for the Vikings and good for Minnesota.

    Since the Vikings franchise can easily be sold for at least $900 million and Zygi & Co. would pocket at least a $300 profit windfall, it’s going to result in the “sweetheart” deal of all “sweetheart” deals or no deal and the loss of the Vikings franchise to LA.

    I haven’t seen the political leadership that’s needed to negotiate a fair stadium deal.

    I was a fan of the original Cleveland Browns… If Cleveland could lose the Browns… we can just as easily lose the Vikings, but I don’t think the Vikings’ name, colors, logos, and trophies would stay in MN.

  43. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/23/2010 - 08:03 am.

    “Zygi has shown absolutely no interesting in negotiating a stadium deal that’s good for the Vikings and good for Minnesota.”

    Zygi’s job, indeed his fiduciary obligation, is to look out for the interests of his shareholders, not for the people of Minnesota. Still, I see no evidence at all that Zygi has been unfair in his dealings with Minnesota. Unlike his predecessor, he has spent a lot of money to put a very competitive and entertaining field on the team. He has shown a lot of patience in the face of a lot of hostility directed toward him. It’s my own personal opinion, that he will take a good deal here in preference to a better deal elsewhere. But let there be no doubt, he or his successors, will have the Vikings play in a new stadium somewhere.

    “Since the Vikings franchise can easily be sold for at least $900 million and Zygi & Co. would pocket at least a $300 profit windfall,”

    A high asking price is premised on having the revenue streams a new stadium provides.

  44. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 08/23/2010 - 08:49 am.

    Here’s some info on the privately funded stadium Ed Roski has proposed in the City of Industry (about 20 miles from downtown LA). Eventually, this stadium could be the home of two NFL teams… much like the new stadium the Jets and Giants will be sharing.

    The revenue streams Roski’s stadium would produce could easily raise the value of the Vikings franchise to at least $1.2 billion according to experts.

    One thing working in our favor is the relocation fee (in the $300 million range) the NFL will charge an existing franchise that moves to the lucrative LA market…

    Stadium Statistics
    Total Seats: 75,000 (expandable to 80,000 for Super Bowl games)
    Suites: 176
    Club Level: 12,500
    Team Offices: 45,000 sq ft
    National Football League (NFL) Attraction: 40,000 sq ft
    Team Store and Other Sponsored Retail Stores: 30,000 sq ft
    Restaurants: 30,000 sq ft
    Banquet facilities: 20,000 sq ft
    NFL Team Training Facility: 115,000 sq ft
    Medical Center and Clinic: 100,000 sq ft
    Parking Spaces: 25,000

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