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NFL is not pleased with Minnesota over stadium

The Strib today is all in on the Vikings stadium story. Mike Kaszuba and Mark Craig report that like poor Howard Beale in “Network,” Minnesota’s legislators have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and the NFL is not happy. “The National Football League said Wednesday the Minnesota Vikings’ chances of getting public money for a new stadium appears to have reached a stalemate, and that the league’s commissioner is ready to tell Gov. Mark Dayton which other cities were willing to have the team. … ‘This was portrayed as having support and likely to pass as recently as a couple of weeks ago,’ said Eric Grubman, the league’s executive vice president of business operations. ‘So this will come as quite a blow. This is quite a blow. There are plenty of willing buyers. I think the Wilfs do not want to sell the franchise, but I think there is a point where they probably would be open-minded,’ he added. ‘I would not be surprised if [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] tells the governor, if he asks, what other cities are interested.’”

Speaking of movies, how many times did Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger return from the semi-dead? They have competition from Arden Hills. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib reports: “Taking advantage of the stalled plans to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, the proposal to instead build the project in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills was dusted off late Wednesday. A group of DFL and Republican legislators unveiled what would be the fourth funding proposal for an Arden Hills stadium – this time calling for a suburban Ramsey County food and beverage tax that would be subject to a voter referendum in November. ‘We’re still alive. We’re still around,’ said Ramsey County Board Chair Rafael Ortega.” But, strangely, they have no reflection in the mirror.

If one of the Legislature’s key definitions of “success” was avoiding a floor vote on a Vikings stadium, a special session would not be very popular. But Gov. Dayton, not to be accused of playing matador with the stadium, like Tim Pawlenty, is leaving his options open. Baird Helgeson of the Strib writes: “Dayton said Wednesday he would not rule out calling a special legislative session to approve a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The governor said he has always preferred a special legislative session to deal with something as large and complex as the nearly $1 billion stadium project. A special session would force legislators to remain focused on a single topic, without the distraction of legislators’ wish-lists that tend to clog the end of regular sessions, he said. ‘I’d give it consideration, but I would have to talk to the legislative leaders,’ Dayton said. The governor said he has no interest in calling a special session until it’s clear there is an agreement. ‘I don’t see going through another round of this,’ he said … .” Who does?

I was a couple days early on my call for another pro-stadium trumpet blast from the Strib’s editorial page. Let’s just say they, like the NFL, are quite disappointed in our legislative, um, leaders. “Delay until next year means adding upwards of $40 million to the project’s cost, prolonging the uncertainty surrounding a valued community asset and dragging this debate into every legislative race this fall. … Stadium opponents who pretend that the Vikings problem will be magically solved if it is ignored are themselves ignoring NFL history. Several markets have lost teams when they balked at public-private stadium efforts, only to pay through the nose years later to attract new franchises. … if Minnesota loses the franchise, this much is clear: The state would pay a high price if it later tried to bring NFL football back to this market and reclaim the major-league status that’s in jeopardy today.” Again with the losing “major league status” … .

Apparently every available body at the Strib got the memo to hammer on something or someone in favor of the stadium. On the sports page Jim Souhan goes after GOp Rep. Dean Urdahl. “The man is a poet. Monday night, he evoked the likes of T.S. Eliot and Tupac, packing worlds of meaning into a handful of words. ‘Why should the state of Minnesota contribute to a stadium for a billionaire owner?’ he asked. … Urdahl has studied the stadium issue for years, and he comes up with a question a third-grader would ask? There are no major sports teams that are not owned by billionaires, or that do not employ millionaires. Ruling out building a stadium that could benefit a billionaire is like ruling out building roads for all those elitists who own cars. … Instead of being asked to come up with a few hundred million dollars to protect a state asset, Minnesota [if the Vikings leave] would be asked to come up with billions. And it would. Urdahl should be asked to pay the difference.” That road analogy might need a little tuning, Jim.

Minnesota’s minority population will nearly equal the white population in another generation. Brady Gervais of the PiPress reports: “In 2010, people of color comprised 24 percent of the regional population in the Twin Cities. By 2040, projections suggest that 43 percent of the residents in the region will be people of color, according to a preliminary forecast by the Metropolitan Council. An anticipated 463,000 new residents will be international immigrants, the report said. Of these, 83 percent are expected to be people of color. The rest will include non-Hispanic whites.”

In case you ever wondered, encouraging someone to kill themself is … “protected free speech.” So says defense attorney Terry Watkins. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes: “The attorney for the former nurse in Faribault, Minn., who encouraged two people online to commit suicide argued before a state Court of Appeals panel that his client’s acts were protected free speech. Not only did his client have the constitutional right to say the things he did, but his words to a Canadian woman and an English man were not intended to induce suicide and thus did not violate state law, attorney Terry Watkins argued. William Melchert-Dinkel, 49, was convicted in March 2011 in Rice County District Court of two felony counts of aiding suicide. … Watkins said that both [victims] had made ‘an autonomous decision’ to take their own lives. And Melchert-Dinkel’s behavior did not go as far as, for example, giving a gun to someone so that they could pull the trigger, he said.” I’m glad the judge is paid to take that seriously.

It was a “good news” day in Duluth when the Chinese owners of Cirrus, the airplane manufacturer, kicked in money to hire as many as 200 new, skilled workers. Dan Kraker’s MPR story says: “Cirrus Aircraft’s new Chinese owners will provide a nearly $100 million investment to complete development of the company’s long-delayed personal jet, the Vision SF-50, a project that could create hundreds of jobs in Duluth and Grand Forks, N.D. … By making the Vision SF-50, Cirrus is trying to bring the first single-engine jet to the marketplace. The seven-seat plane, now priced at $1.72 million, will sell for just under $2 million in July — about half the price of small, twin-engine jets. … The company will be hiring 100 engineers and technicians to help develop the Vision. Hundreds more jobs are possible when production begins.”

In The New York Times, attorney and corporate advisor Michael Peregrine offers his thoughts on CEO behavior, in the wake of Brian Dunn’s departure from Best Buy. “The Best Buy scandal is the latest in a string of prominent controversies in which boards have moved quickly to terminate executives over concerns with personal conduct rather than legal or financial impropriety. And these cases may mean boards will need to set up new guidelines for their leaders in order to resolve thorny issues involving personal rather than business ethics. … Evaluating reputation risk is a component of the board’s oversight. Reputation risk can arise from the public disclosure of an event — violation of prevailing law, professional ethics, or standards of business conduct, product quality, public safety or values. The theory is that an event can create a negative public impression, which in turn jeopardizes a company’s value on a broad scale. While reputation is difficult to monetize, it is equally difficult to restore once damaged. The ultimate governance lesson from Best Buy is that reputation risk can arise from untoward personal conduct of executive officers. Thus, the traditional compact may need to be amended. … Thanks to Best Buy, boards may want to be more proactive concerning the personal conduct of their executives.”                  

Comments (23)

  1. Submitted by Max Hailperin on 04/19/2012 - 06:25 am.

    Minnesota = Twin Cities metro area?

    The summary of the demographics story seems to equate Minnesota with the Twin Cities region.

  2. Submitted by William Souder on 04/19/2012 - 06:53 am.

    Vikings Stadium

    Hey…this is progress! The NFL has offered to provide a list of potential buyers in other cities for the Vikings. Great. Let’s have a look.

    Meanwhile, Jim Souhan’s nasty ad hominem shot at Rep, Urdahl notwithstanding, the question as to why public money is needed to support an owner and a sport that are dripping money is THE question about a stadium. Always has been, always will be. It’s true the state supports public assets. But art galleries and convention centers are not privately held, for-profit enterprises.

  3. Submitted by Bruce Bruemmer on 04/19/2012 - 07:40 am.

    The Jason analogy is apt…

    and the thought of Ted Mondale in a hockey goalie mask is truly creepy. But just as with the Halloween movies, there is a point where the audience stops screaming and starts laughing.

  4. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 04/19/2012 - 07:50 am.

    It is time to get on with the real problems of Minnesota

    It is time to put an end to sports franchise blackmail. There is no reason for the public to buy stadiums for very private companies. If other cities want to do it, that is up to them. That is one way the wealthy get wealthy and stay wealthy. They game the system. There is nothing but subjective reasons given to build a stadium. There hasn’t been any objective analysis given to the public by the Wilf’s or the politicians that says the public needs a new stadium. It is all based on subjective reasoning that mostly favors the Wilf’s. It is time to get on with the real problems of Minnesota, not the contrived problems.

  5. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 04/19/2012 - 08:24 am.

    Hey Souhan, maybe YOU can answer this one?

    Why do people keep warning us that, if the Vikings leave, a new team and stadium will be much more expensive? Why, WHY do these morons assume we’ll ever want any NFL team back here under the current terms and conditions?

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 04/19/2012 - 12:28 pm.


      Looking at the history of sports facilities and team relocations, it’s a pretty safe assumption. When a team leaves, nearly inevitably the taxpayers decide to build what they have to to attract another franchise, and it normally involves paying 100% of the cost, and the cost is higher too. Expect to pay double what we’re being asked to pay now, to end up in the same place. It’s crazy to let this happen.

  6. Submitted by craig furguson on 04/19/2012 - 08:27 am.

    And so the stadium

    dies with a wimper because legislators know the public doesn’t want to pay for it and are unwilling to take a vote.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/19/2012 - 08:29 am.

    Tipping point

    I think we may have reached a tipping point on these stadiums whereby large public dollars are simply no longer to be made available. When the NFL and it’s team representatives stomp around like children and act like their entitled to government money and public charity simply because they want it, they risk blowing a public sentiment bomb up in their own faces. If they add threats to the mix they make the situation even more volatile.

    Meanwhile, for the hundredth time, I would just have one question for the NFL and Wilf: “Where you gonna play football while you build a stadium somewhere else?” I see no reason to require anything less than a ten year lease at the dome.

    This business of the NFL acting like their stadiums are someone elses problem and responsibility is way past getting old.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/19/2012 - 09:11 am.

      Expect major tantrums from the NFL…

      …because the Minnesota example might be contagious. It could blow their whole act.

      For many years, I was a fan of the Vikings and Twins. Now, I don’t give a crap what happens to either of these corporate welfare queens.

      • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 04/19/2012 - 11:42 am.


        Agree with you entirely. Extreme right wingers who complain about any public expenditure that benefits the majority of people don’t seem to mind throwing money at the rich who are lapping at the public trough.

  8. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 04/19/2012 - 09:16 am.

    I completely agree– when stadiums were a few hundred million, and recessions didn’t involve losing 750,000 jobs a month, this “build it or we’ll move” threat worked. But the NFL and the owners have upped the ante, paying more and more for players, building ever more lavish stadiums, and upping prices on everything– while many sectors of the economy are just trying to survive. They’ve basically priced themselves out of the market for almost all cities, just as they’ve priced themselves out of most people’s ability to go to a game in these new palaces. So sure, the Vikings should shop around. If they find a sucker, go for it. The TV reception is just as good 1600 miles away as it is 16 miles away…

  9. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/19/2012 - 10:01 am.


    “I would not be surprised if [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] tells the governor, if he asks, what other cities are interested.”

    Do it. Just freaking do it, already! We’re calling your bluff and have been for at least the last year. Either show your hand or fold.

    Criminy, I’ve seen 5 year olds use this tactic: “I’m really gonna run away. I’m gonna do it. Really, I’m gonna run away. If you don’t give me what I want, I might tell you where I’m running away. Really. I’m gonna run away.”

    It’s time to just pat the NFL/Wilf on the head and say, “That’s nice, honey,” knowing they’ll be back before dinner’s ready. And if not, well, they probably weren’t going to amount to anything, anyway.

  10. Submitted by Tom Beckel on 04/19/2012 - 10:10 am.

    Why will Minnesota want a new NFL team someday?

    Minnesota lost the Lakers and North Stars, and replaced them with the Timberwolves and Wild. Why would anyone think they wouldn’t replace the Vikings someday. I think we should just let the White Earth indian tribe pay for the states share of the stadium and let them build a casino in the cities. Why are we playing favorite to one or two tribes, let them all have the right to build casino’s in the cities if they want.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/19/2012 - 12:30 pm.


      If and when we can afford it, we’ll have the things we want and not just the things we need. Today is not that day.

  11. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 04/19/2012 - 10:29 am.

    Not trying to “split the baby” but…

    is the issue NO public subsidy or is it the terribly one sided deal currently proposed?

    Personally, I’m willing to see some of my tax dollars (and I include any form of gambling revenue as tax dollars) go to support a stadium. But MN needs to negotiate a much better deal. And if a fairer deal for the state is not good enough, so be it.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/19/2012 - 12:32 pm.

      spltting babies…

      The Vikings demand for soooo much public money has really polarized this thing. I’ve looked at the economics of this and I can tell you that from a strictly economic perspective, any more than $150 million public dollars turns an asset into a liability when it comes to the Vikings, at that rate we break even on expenditures vs. income tax revenue. Less would be better but a deal like that would have sailed through the legislature in a heartbeat right or wrong.

      One could argue under some circumstances that more public dollars would be warranted if you’re creating some kind of infrastructure that will transcend the actual stadium, i.e. something that benefits the community at large whether or not they use the stadium. However, you’re never going to a billion dollars, or even $300 million that way because at some point from THAT perspective the stadium is irrelevant because if a project is that valuable to the community you don’t need the stadium rationalize it.

      Look: Ted Mondale said at the hearing the other day that it would cost about $5 million a year to maintain the dome without the Vikings. Well, that means would save $35 million or more a year by letting the Vikings go instead of building them a new stadium. It doesn’t take much to convert the Vikings from a moderate asset into an expensive liability.

      By the way Mondale also said the Vikings are losing money at the Dome which is flat out lie. According to Forbs the Vikings had revenues of $277 million in 2011 and a payroll of $156 million leaving them with a cool $121 million. I know a lot of people who’d pay good money for that kind of financial disappointment.

      • Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/20/2012 - 09:29 am.

        “Leaving them with a cool $121 million”

        Knowing that makes it even seem stranger to know that the Met Sports Commission has excused the Vikings from paying rent for the last 10 years because theWilfs pleaded hardship. Since the public has been paying all the maintenance bills on the Dome anyhow, we can hardly claim that expenses would go up by $5 million for maintenance if the Vikings leave.

  12. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/19/2012 - 10:39 am.

    stadium whine

    I just read an article on another web site about how Ziggy has spent all this time upping his offers and working with Minnesota to get a stadium built. Am I mistaken? My impression is he made an offer at the start of the Minneapolis stadium debate from which he never varied. He and the NFL refused to open their books to prove their need. Bagly (spelling?) claimed this was a stadium owned by the state and blah blah blah. If that is true, why do the Vikings get the naming rights? I saw an article putting the value of those rights at 300M. He gets those rights and his real contribution to the stadium is more like 10% than 40%. Maybe if he’d negotiate instead of threaten, if he’d give those rights back to their rightful owners he could get the stadium built. But we know that won’t happen.

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/19/2012 - 10:47 am.


    Well, we have been disappointed in the Vikings over the years as well. Disappointment seems to be a two way street where the local football franchise is concerned.

  14. Submitted by Bill Kellett on 04/19/2012 - 11:11 am.

    Zombi Stadiums

    How many times did the Twins stadium have to die before it finally got built with you know who’s money? The DFL governor wants Wiff to have his stadium. I thought it was the GOP that favored the 1%ers.

  15. Submitted by Bryce Elson on 04/19/2012 - 01:11 pm.

    au revoirs

    Goodbye, don’t let the door hit you in your derriere on the way out.

  16. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 04/19/2012 - 02:15 pm.

    sick of the stadium talk

    When the latest stadium plan failed I was so relieved. I thought it was the end of this sickening stadium story, and Minnesota would get back to talking about more important matters. Now it looks like it will go on and on for a different stadium location. People don’t want the stadium, we don’t want to pay for the stadium, and we don’t care what Ziggy and the NFL think. I can’t possibly be more tired of a new stadium for the Vikings than I am now.

  17. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/20/2012 - 09:23 am.

    If there is a special session

    I’d rather see it be because the governor vetoes the Republican/ALEC budget with its cuts to human services and public investment. (a $20 million facelift to the Capitol, for instance, instead of the $200-million plus that is needed to fix all the deterioration that comes with being 100 years old).

    I’d also like to see list of cities (plural) which are interested in acquiring the Vikings. Who knew?

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