Don’t tell us we can’t gouge our fans. Stribbers Richard Meryhew and Baird Helgeson report on the Vikings’ response to the governor’s admonition about those seat licenses: “The Vikings firmly defended their right to proceed with seat licenses fees, or so-called builder’s licenses. The stadium agreement ‘expressly authorize the sale of stadium builder’s licenses and include the proceeds of any sale in the project budget,’ the team said in a statement. ‘Stadium builder’s licenses were vetted by the Legislature, testified to by Vikings and state of Minnesota negotiators, and most importantly, specifically reflected in the stadium legislation that was passed and signed by the governor.’ … The stadium legislation gives the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is working with the team to oversee development of the project, the right to own and sell the seat licenses, although the revenue then goes to the Vikings construction costs.” Is it too soon to revisit how shrewdly the whole deal was negotiated … by Zygi and the NFL?
At ESPN, Kevin Seifert writes: “The stadium bill, which Dayton signed into law in May, does include language that allows ‘stadium builder’s licenses,’ but the Vikings would face a significant hurdle if they try to levy such a fee. Any such arrangement must be approved by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, a five-member panel created to oversee stadium construction and operations. That panel includes three members appointed by Dayton and two by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. A spokesman said Tuesday that Rybak agrees with Dayton and is ‘one thousand percent opposed’ to seat licenses. The state and city of Minneapolis together are contributing $498 million to stadium construction, with the Vikings paying the rest. Other sources that the team could tap for revenue include a loan from the NFL, stadium naming rights and corporate sponsorships. … Larry Spooner, a warehouse supervisor from suburban Minneapolis, became the public face of Vikings fans during the stadium push at the Capitol. Always dressed in purple and gold, Spooner testified at numerous legislative hearings and held frequent vigils outside the Capitol in support of the team’s bid. Spooner, who has owned two season tickets for 16 years, is opposed to seat licenses. ‘We don’t know the details yet, but I’m adamantly against it,’ Spooner said. ‘It clearly is set up for people who have a lot more money than normal people. I don’t like the philosophy of it.’ ” But the original billion is no big deal.
The Vikings’ Lester Mr. Bagley was on one of those “listening tours,” collecting fans thoughts on amenities for the new palace. Elizabeth Baier of MPR writes from Rochester: “At the meeting, Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said seat licenses are authorized under the bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Dayton. Bagley said the team is exploring all possible avenues to cover its share of a new stadium. ‘The opportunity is there, but again, we’re in the field to measure the market and determine whether or not this is a product that will fit the market and if so, what levels,’ Bagley said. ‘But no decision has been made on any pricing or any product in the new stadium.’ ” Personally, I always flinch when someone calls a scheme like this “a product.”
Also, Mike Mullen of Politics in Minnesota notes that Dayton has another issue with the Vikings: “The first issue raised in Dayton’s letter is the team’s apparent eagerness to play games in foreign countries. In October, the Vikings announced their plan to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in London, England, during the 2013-14 season. That contest would count as a ‘home’ game for Minnesota. According to the team’s deal with the state, the Vikings are allowed to pursue up to three such ‘home’ games abroad every 15 years. According to Dayton’s letter, the team hoped next year’s game would not count against that limit, and expressed interest in hosting another game outside the United States in the coming years. ‘It would be far more helpful,’ Dayton writes, ‘if the Vikings focused public attention on a desire to play home games [at the new stadium], rather than elsewhere.’ ”
And I think … just for the hell of it … NBC Sports’ Mike Florio writes: “The Vikings could eventually be back in play for L.A. As the team’s new stadium moves from blueprint to bricks and mortar, the politician who helped push the deal through a reluctant legislature isn’t happy. And he has threatened in a roundabout way to nix the project. … Unless they work this out, it could end up being ‘No People’s Stadium.’ And the Vikings could be playing at Farmer’s Field.” As prognosticators go, Florio might be the sports equivalent of Dick Morris.
Related … AP is free to ramble. The … AP … reports about AP: “A grand jury in Houston has dismissed a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge against Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after hearing from the four-time Pro Bowler and other witnesses. Derek Hollingsworth, one of Peterson’s attorneys, said Tuesday the case stemming from Peterson’s July 7 arrest outside a night club is expected to be formally dropped on Wednesday. Peterson was due in court for a pretrial hearing on Thursday before Judge Natalie Fleming. Hollingsworth said Peterson testified before the grand jury on Tuesday and found no probable cause for prosecutors to continue.” If Ben Roethlisberger is free to play, I can see why they passed on Peterson.
“Financial irregularities” and “Teamsters.” Has Jimmy Hoffa reappeared? Mike Hughlett of the Strib says: “Teamsters Local 120 — a large and prominent Minnesota local — was taken over Tuesday by its international parent union after an investigation found evidence of financial irregularities by top leaders. The international and its General President James P. Hoffa put Local 120 into emergency trusteeship after a ‘determination that there has been a violation of fiduciary responsibility,’ said Bret Caldwell, a spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Caldwell said the top two executives of Blaine-based Local 120, Brad Slawson Sr. and Brad Slawson Jr., have been put on a leave of absence and the local’s executive leadership board has been dissolved.” Are we talking a double-dose nepotism in that one story?
Facing Wall Street sharks Tuesday, Best Buy’s CEO did his cheerleading. Says Thomas Lee of the Strib: “Best Buy Co. Inc. CEO Hubert Joly dubbed his turnaround strategy ‘Renew Blue.’ However, some investors here were hoping for something more like ‘Reinvent Blue.’ In a three-hour presentation to investors Tuesday, Joly offered no radical remedies to fix the struggling Richfield-based consumer electronics retailer. Instead, Joly argued that Best Buy could significantly boost its immediate performance by correcting basic things like reducing product returns, moving some of its best store employees toward weekend shifts, and making sure stores don’t run out of merchandise consumers want.” It took three hours to say that?
This is a big deal if you have to navigate the southwest metro. Tim Harlow of the Strib reports: “Drivers hoping that Tuesday would bring the opening of ramps from eastbound Interstate 494 to Washington Avenue and from Washington Avenue to southbound Hwy. 169 had to wait another day. The Minnesota Department of Transportation said that those ramps will now open Wednesday. The agency blamed the delayed opening on inclement weather. Over the weekend, a couple of ramps at the busy Eden Prairie intersection did open as planned. They include a ramp from Marth Road, which runs parallel to I-494 on the freeway’s south side, to eastbound 494. A new roundabout on Marth Road at the intersection also opened.”