Vikings cut ties to Stadium Commission: No more ‘political games,’ Wilfs say

The Vikings-Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission kerfuffle that exploded Tuesday spun out of control tonight.

Team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf sent an angry letter to Paul Thatcher, chairman of the commission’s finance committee, informing him that they have instructed team staff to halt all “engagement” with the agency, “unless and until the Commission gets serious about resolving the near-term revenue issues and acting like a partner with us to retain this valued franchise in the Minnesota for the next generation of fans.

“The time for more political games on this issue has expired,” they added. “Actions – not words – will signal to us whether the Commission is a partner or an obstructionist in our efforts to resolve our long-term stadium issue.”

They added bluntly: “Your actions yesterday leave us confused and questioning the future of this franchise.”

The letter came after a resolution passed in Thatcher’s committee seeking to forge an extension of the Vikings’ Metrodome lease, which expires after the 2011 season. Thatcher also declared that the political chances for a new stadium effort during the 2010 legislative session were dim.

The letter said:

“The Minnesota Vikings are shocked, exasperated and extremely disappointed by the flawed ‘revenue relief’ proposal advanced by you and passed in your Committee … This action was a cynical attempt to advance a ‘proposal’ that you know is totally unacceptable to the Minnesota Vikings and fails to address the issues important to both the short-term and long-term success of this franchise in Minnesota. We can’t help but note the irony that the actions in your Committee threaten the Viking’s future relationship with the MSFC — a Commission which claims it has a mandate to keep the Vikings in Minnesota.”

Added the men, who are landlords of major commercial properties: “We can’t conceive of treating a tenant in such a disrespectful manner if the goal is to retain a valued tenant with a new, long-term lease.”

They added: “Despite the fact the Vikings are at the bottom of the [NFL] in stadium revenues and have the most uncompetitive stadium deal in the NFL, this ownership group has made significant investments —from ownership capital, not stadium revenues — to turn this team around and inject a renewed sense of enthusiasm and pride in the Minnesota Vikings … Your actions yesterday leave us confused and questioning the future of this franchise.”

The full commission meets Thurday morning to vote on the finance committee resolution.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Mike Vanderscheuren on 11/18/2009 - 08:50 pm.

    To the Messieurs Wilf: Please leave town and take your stinking NFL franchise with you.

  2. Submitted by John Olson on 11/18/2009 - 09:20 pm.

    It’s time for both sides to grow up.

    If the Wilfs’ strategy is to threaten and/or attempt to extort public funds for a stadium through the media, they may be in for a rude awakening from the public.

  3. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 11/18/2009 - 11:00 pm.

    It is the NFL, and the franchise owners, who are unmatched in political gamesmanship.

    It is their strange, unique sense of entitlement that leads to this mock outrage over a local commission’s amateur attempt to play their game.

  4. Submitted by Tony Spadafora on 11/19/2009 - 05:47 am.

    Commissioner Paul Rexford Thatcher has gone “ROGUE” before. The guy’s got spunk… I hate spunk!!

  5. Submitted by Ross Williams on 11/19/2009 - 08:56 am.

    This is business and politics. The Vikings are winning and Wilf figures now is the time to pressure the commission for a better deal. Most fans can only afford to watch games on TV – if they pay the cable fees. Does it really matter if the studio/stadium is in Minneapolis or Los Angeles?

  6. Submitted by sean mckenna on 11/19/2009 - 09:34 am.

    Mr. Wilf needs to be reminded that he had a financial partner in Anoka County and Blaine. He is the one who scuttled that deal. I could care less about the Vikings. You own the team, Mr. Wilf. If you wish to leave, just leave.

  7. Submitted by frank watson on 11/19/2009 - 09:48 am.

    How do the NY Jets and the NY Giants seem to get along in one stadium but the Vikings and the Gophers can’t?

  8. Submitted by bob zemansky on 11/19/2009 - 12:46 pm.

    Wilfs—> “We can’t conceive of treating a tenant in such a disrespectful manner if the goal is to retain a valued tenant with a new, long-term lease.”

    I believe the wilfs know that a “valued tenant” is one that actually PAYS RENT, while a tenant that doesn’t is known as a “deadbeat”, and probably doesn’t get a lot of “respect” from them in negotiations.

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