So much for harmony.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission’s finance committee thought it was promoting peace and love with its last remaining tenant this morning.
But its action has officially, instantly and angrily backfired.
“The lease extension issue is a non-starter,” Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president for public affairs and stadium development, told me this afternoon after analyzing the five-page resolution. “Our ownership is outraged for the sports commission to advance a proposal that they know is completely unacceptable to the Vikings.”
As I reported earlier today, the Sports Facilities Commission surprised Minnesota Vikings’ management with a resolution seeking a lease extension in exchange for some financial considerations.
Call it extremely dead on arrival. And consider it a step backward in the already icy relationship between the agency and the Vikings ownership group led by Zygi and Mark Wilf.
For sure, a key issue to the Vikings is the post-season revenues the team generates at the Dome. Based on how well the team is doing on the field, at least one post-season game is almost assured again this season. Likely more. It could all add up to several million dollars for the team. The commission captured that revenue from the 2008 post-season.
Said a perturbed Bagley: “We’ve been negotiating in good faith to resolve this issue to get some short-term expense relief. Then, without the simple courtesy of a phone call or a heads-up they drop this radical proposal on us … Our owners are making significant investments in this team and building support and a winning team . . . The commission’s action leaves us even more concerned about our long-term prospects here.”
Bagley went on: “We’re the last remaining tenant. We expect to be treated with some level of respect, and I guess we’ll have to continue to wait. The Wilfs are landlords. You don’t do this to a tenant whose lease is up.”
The Vikings lease expires after the 2011 season.
The full Sports Facilities Commission meets Thursday when this committee resolution will be on the table for a full vote. Chairman Roy Terwilliger hinted at his discomfort at the proposal today, but he’s not a member of the subcommittee, so didn’t vote. It passed 3-0.
Among the members of the committee is Chuck Lutz, who is the deputy director of Community Planning and Economic Development for the city of Minneapolis, which, presumably, is eager to keep the team as happy as possible at the Dome.
Should be an interesting meeting Thursday morning — 9:30 a.m. at the Dome.