Vikings defend their right to charge seat license fees

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.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Rod Loper on 11/14/2012 - 07:06 am.

    No surprise

    Sounds like they are using the Florida Marlins playbook. Getting taxpayers to build a stadium
    and then stripping the team for profits to the owners. For the Vikings, loyalty is a one way street.
    Incidentally, why weren’t the Twins interested in that Marlin pitching that went to the Blue Jays?

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 11/15/2012 - 09:51 am.


      You don’t need to go all the way to Florida for that playbook. Just look at the other end of downtown.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/14/2012 - 08:15 am.

    Seat licenses

    …are a standard part of the NFL owner’s playbook, and this is not only not a new idea, it’s something that should have been anticipated. In case no one has noticed, NFL teams are N–O–T charitable enterprises. If local “mainstream” media had been doing their job, it’s among the items that merited plenty of public attention before the deal was signed, but instead got buried under all the cheerleading. Years ago (so many years ago that I can’t remember just when it was – in the 1980’s?), when the Rams were fairly new to St. Louis after their arrival from L.A., and a new downtown stadium was built expressly for them, St. Louis season ticket holders had to cough up two or three thousand dollars each for the privilege of renewing their season tickets.

    In some circles, this is called a “user fee.” Since many, many people in Minnesota who are not Vikings fans – a sizable portion of whom don’t even much care for NFL football – will be paying more than their fair share via tax dollars over the course of the deal, maybe such a “user fee,” while exposing the greed of the owner to daylight, isn’t otherwise totally unfair. Fair or not, it’s standard NFL operating procedure.

  3. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 11/14/2012 - 08:25 am.

    Let’s have a public subsidy of those seat license fees…

    …and anything else this outfit can dream up. “In for a penny, in for a pound !”

    Why pretend, as the mayor in his duplicity of course MUST pretend, that we had ANY spine WHATSOEVER in the negotiations over this massive handout ?

    “…the team is exploring all possible avenues to cover its share of a new stadium.”

    Like thorough highwaymen, they’ve got to go through ALL the pockets of the fans and taxpayers and see what there is to get. And why not ?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/14/2012 - 08:41 am.

    Dayton’s just being silly now

    First he rams the largest public subsidy of a private company in the history of MN down our throats despite overwhelming public opposition. Then he pretends he thought the Wilf was gonna spend his own money on the stadium? I hate to say it but this fiasco is going to be hitting full stride just about the time we next go to the polls. I opposed the stadium furiously but I hope it doesn’t cost the Democrats votes two years from now, I fear it will. This dog and pony show is just beginning to unravel.

  5. Submitted by T J Simplot on 11/14/2012 - 09:13 am.

    What I find really odd about the Governor’s comments is that he is mad about things that were specifically allowed in the contract with the state. If he didn’t like them, he should not have signed it.

  6. Submitted by Dave Thul on 11/14/2012 - 09:16 am.

    I hate

    to have to agree with the governor, but the Vikings ‘build the stadium’ website specifically said that Personal Seat Licenses were not a good option for Minnesota.

    Of course on the other hand, this is the governor who demonizes big business and accuses the wealthy of not paying their fair share. So why on earth would he have assumed that a wealthy businessman like Wilf would not use the PSL option if it was written in the contract?

  7. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 11/14/2012 - 09:30 am.

    Dayton is indeed being silly. He planted his flag as being pro-stadium, and the idea of personal seat licenses certainly was there for everyone to see when he did it. Now he just risks the appearance of trying to straddle both sides of the fence– “I was against it after I was for it”. This typically turns off voters, as would any attempt to re-debate the whole stadium issue (see our neighbors in WI and their ill-fated recall attempt).

    Face it– the stadium decision is over, and now the Vikings can take the credit and/or blame for how they run their finances or gouge their fans. Lets not further blur the line between government and pro sports.

  8. Submitted by Lance Groth on 11/14/2012 - 11:56 am.

    Seat Licenses Aren’t Gonna Happen

    People, relax about the seat licenses. The MSFA has to approve the seat licensing scheme, and since the members are appointed by the Gov and by Rybak, who both oppose it, it’s not gonna happen. The Vikings can say they have the contractual right all they want, but it they don’t get approval, it doesn’t happen. They’ll just have to find another way, and they have multiple options. Goodness, all this froth about nothing.

    As for Dayton or the Dems paying a price for the stadium deal – nah, not so much. It was much more fresh in the election just past than it will be in future elections, and you may have noticed, the Dems did very well, and Dayton is popular. As with all things political, the opposition were very vocal, but the deal was done, and the fact is that a majority of Minnesotans like the Vikings, want them to play here, and will be suitably impressed with the new stadium. You can make a good argument that public money shouldn’t have been used, but it was, and the issue will fade as new things arise to occupy our attention. The state and the voters will move on.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/14/2012 - 12:10 pm.


    The idea that was ever or could ever be a “people’s” stadium was always a sick joke. All stadiums everywhere are about multiplying sports franchise value (mission already accomplished) and increasing revenue for the owners. It’s just a bad joke to pretend we’re doing anything else when we dump a billion public dollars into these stadiums.

Leave a Reply