State Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) this morning unveiled a new/old idea to solve the Vikings stadium issue by having the Vikings sell ownership shares to the public.
Under her idea, the Wilf family could sell up to 70 percent of the shares of the team and still retain a controlling interest to run the team without interference from the community owners on all matters other than the idea of moving the Vikings to another state. (That should be no big problem, says Kahn, since Zygi Wilf keeps saying that he doesn’t want to move the team.)
The funds raised by the sale of shares would apparently replace the state contribution money that Wilf claims to need to complete a deal for the construction of a new stadium.
The Green Bay Packers are owned by shareholders in the community (and, come to think of it, you never hear much talk of the Packers moving to another city). The NFL has a rule that bars any team other than the Packers from being owned by more than 30 people. The bill would require the state and the Vikings to work with the NFL to permit community ownership of the Vikings.
Kahn made a similar proposal regarding ownership of the Twins in 2005, when the team was seeking a subsidy to build a new stadium. The bill made it out of committees in both houses of the Legislature but never came to a floor vote and the Twins got their subsidy without a change in ownership structure.
Kahn put out a first draft of the bill this morning but it raises many questions that it doesn’t answer. Special rules would have to be written, perhaps to make sure that a controlling interest would be owned by Minnesotans or that the community owners would have the power to block a move but not to bench the quarterback.
“One of the things I like about the idea,” Kahn just told in a phone interview, “is that it gives all these a whiners who are saying how terrible it would be to lose the team a mechanism to put their money where their mouths are” by buying shares. “It’s a market test on the whole idea of keeping the Vikings here.”