A Vikings stadium? Here’s a plan to declare exactly what the public is willing to do

The latest state budget forecast is out. The Arden Hills City Council will vote tonight on whether to continue to court the Vikings. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, after months of a shaky relationship with the football team, has become more engaged.

Even as the NFL may be headed for labor-management Armageddon this week — a crisis that could derail any stadium appetite — legislators at the Capitol are closing in on a bill for a Vikings stadium.

 New Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chairman Ted Mondale’s learning curve is peaking, and Gov Mark Dayton has laid down some loosey-goosey guidelines for a “people’s stadium.”

Ted Mondale
Ted Mondale

Tuesday is March 1. It’s time to propose and debate a Vikings stadium deal. The longer everyone waits, the shorter time there is to analyze it, fix it, and make it as socially responsible as a stadium bill can ever be.

For a decade now, I have written about a “global solution” to the state’s sports and public assembly facilities matters, seeking an ongoing unified funding source and a singular administrative umbrella for stadiums, arenas and convention centers. That still should be a goal. It would stop this merry-go-round of erratic stadium deals, this “all stadiums all the time” cycle as Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson recently described Minnesota’s never-ending, catch-as-catch-can approach.

But, as always, procrastination and pressing politics tends to make bad policy. Unfortunately, we’re headed that way again on the Vikings deal. The realpolitik of the moment — an awful state deficit, resulting social cutbacks, attacks on public employees and Local Government Aid, no-new-taxes from the right and other priorities from the left — won’t allow for creative breakthroughs on the sports facilities front.

For now, it’s time to lay down the parameters for a Vikings stadium: where, what and how. As crunch time approaches, we can’t allow the team to drive this. If the community and state want an NFL team long-term, we must come up with the framework of a solution.

It will be up to the team owners and the NFL leaders to determine if they can live with it. Given the size of this market, the historic support for the franchise and a rational stadium plan, the owners and league will have no other choice than to accept it.

Location, team money
Mondale said last week that sometime in the next 10 days or so, legislative leaders will produce a bill. It is likely to be so-called “site neutral,” letting different communities slug it out.

That’s a waste of time and plays into the team’s hands.

If the goal is to limit the cost of construction, the only place this stadium can go is the current Metrodome site, or, perhaps, a piece of land to the west that now houses the Star Tribune (my former employer.)

Putting the stadium on the Dome site is the first building block for Dayton’s call for a “people’s stadium.”

There are those who argue that the ultimate “people’s stadium” is one that the team’s owners build with their own money and that it should be built completely privately. It surely would make life and politics easier.

But it’s a dream. It denies the sordid reality of modern sports business and facilities financing.

Ideally, team owners nationally would build their own stadiums. A handful of them have. We salute them. They are outliers. In the Twin Cities market, we have had one experience with a totally privately build sports facility: Target Center. That experience?

The prideful owners fended off some public aid other than infrastructure, they overreached, the economy tanked, the Gulf War dried up family shows and concerts, the project tipped sideways, and the city of Minneapolis — stuck with a landmark building in its emerging Warehouse District — had to come to its bailout rescue, spending more than $80 million, a burden on property tax holders ever since.

If Zygi Wilf and his partners — super-wealthy people from outside of Minnesota — were planning on such a private stadium project, they would have begun it six years ago when they bought the team. We’d have a new facility already.

It’s not gonna happen. The Wilfs — who control the fate of the NFL franchise with their league partners — are not going to build this stadium on their own. They should. They won’t.

So, it comes to this: Do we — leftists, rightists, sports fans, community activists, economic developers, politicians up for re-election in 2012 — want to retain this coveted sports franchise?

If a new stadium is not built, the NFL will have to move the team. Not tomorrow. Not next year. But at some point.

Do we want to keep the Vikings long term? That’s where this legislation and debate begins.

If the answer is, “No,” that’s easy. Gov. Dayton and the Legislature, Mayor Rybak and the City Council, Hennepin County Chairman Mike Opat and the county board can do nothing, and let the forces play themselves out.

By 2013 or ’14 or so — after much drama and hand-wringing, lawsuits and talk show and web venting — the Wilfs would likely sell the team, and it could move somewhere where a stadium is being built or a sweetheart deal awaits.

End of story. Life goes on.

If the answer is, “Yes, let’s keep them,” the next door to walk through is this: “At what cost?”

Getting a handle on costs
Ideally, the stadium would come in at the bottom end of the $700 million to $800 million range. That is already an obscene number, but it’s what things cost. There is no way this community can or should be part of a $1 billion-plus project for sports.

“The price tags on these things keep going up, and I think we’ve got to go the other way,” Mondale said in an interview last week. The mantra around the Capitol these days is “We’re not doing Dallas,” meaning the $1.3 billion it cost to build the new Cowboys’ football palace.

I have always thought that a roof was unnecessary. The Vikings feel the same way. An open-air stadium increases the value of luxury suites and club seats; it allows the richest fans to pay to be inside while the rest of us bundle up in the “cheap” seats.

A stadium without a roof would cost about $180 million less than a stadium with a roof, Mondale estimates.

But the politics of the debate seem to show that a roof will be part of the package. I’m told that legislators from Greater Minnesota won’t vote for a new stadium unless there’s a roof, so their high school teams can play games there. And it allows for the University of Minnesota baseball and softball programs to thrive, along with small college teams. It also means Minnesota could bid for a men’s NCAA basketball Final Four … once a decade.

“I’ve not heard anyone say that an open-air stadium is going to work,” Mondale said.

I’ve always doubted that having the state high school football and soccer championships or dozens of small college baseball games and a Final Four every 10 years at a new stadium is worth $180 million. The operational costs of a domed stadium are sky high. The energy costs soar, too. I don’t think this exactly plugs into the “people’s stadium” construct.

We are also continuously told that the Metrodome plays host to more than 300 “events” a year, and so will a new Vikings roofed stadium. A quick perusal of the Dome’s event calendar for 2010 showed, by my count, two events — other than amateur soccer, baseball and flag football — that were Dome necessary: TwinsFest, the Twins annual fan appreciation fair, and Monster Jam, a motor show.

Beyond that, all the other “events” — including the Hmong American New Year celebration and a Jewish Federation event on Christmas — were movable to an indoor arena, such as Target Center or Xcel Energy Center, two publicly funded buildings in need of their own revenues.

Again, politics will trump policy here. Bottom line: The stadium deal will include a roof. With that in mind, we have to make sure the facility is used regularly for purposes OTHER THAN sports.

Land and preparation costs
Knowing that a roof will spike the cost of the stadium means we must locate it in a cost-efficient place that also serves a public purpose: It must have public transit, must have the potential for other urban street traffic, must be centrally located and must have familiarity with customers/citizens.

Re-using the Metrodome site is the most socially responsible option. Light rail and other public transit go there. Fans know how to get there. Parking ramps are nearby.

A study conducted in January for the City of Minneapolis by local real estate consultants came up with these stats: The possible costs of acquiring and preparing land near the Minneapolis Farmers Market and Target Field — a site the Vikings have pondered — is somewhere between $69 million and $181 million.

That compares with a $30 million to $70 million site prep at the Dome site, with most of that devoted to the construction of parking garages for premium customers.

(The Arden Hills site, which is being backed by the Ramsey County Board, would require at least $150 million in road work, let alone another $15 million to $18 million in environmental remediation. Sorry, guys, makes no sense.)

The idea of using the Star Tribune land to the west of the Dome is intriguing. It would allow the Vikings to remain in the Dome while the new stadium is being built. Other communities have done it that way, in Milwaukee with Miller Park, in Philadelphia with new stadiums going up while Veterans Stadium was being used in the same parking lots.

Apparently, there would be some substantial infrastructural work needed to place the new stadium on the newspaper’s site. And there would be the acquisition costs. (Mondale, by the way, said he knew of no percolating talks between the team and the newspaper.) For sure, it would be good for the Vikings to keep playing in the Dome during construction.

If the current Metrodome site is recycled and the Vikings have to play two seasons at the U’s TCF Bank Stadium, they will claim a shortfall on revenues during that time, what with fewer seats and fewer suites on campus.

Assuming the team and the ‘U’ could work out a deal for those two seasons, the public needs to be cautious of the demands the team will make for some sort of “make-good” subsidies during that time.

Of any compensation to the Vikings for playing outside the Dome for a couple of seasons, Mondale said: “I’m not quite sure that’s a public purpose.”

It’s not. As a matter of policy, the legislation should not provide a subsidy during those two years. A new stadium with millions of dollars of increased revenues will await the team. That should be enough of a public subsidy.

More on ‘people’s stadium’
More than the number of events in the stadium, there is a chance to make this facility a 365-day-a-year place. Any legislation must be forward-looking and define this building — which will play host to fewer than 20 major events a year — as a community center, too. The Vikings need to participate in this visioning.

We must explore public uses for this stadium and attempt to make it a truly urban football stadium. Can we?

Can we put a sports management program of Minneapolis Community and Technology College in the building? Can we house a police station in there? Can nearby Hennepin County Medical Center set up an urgent care center there? Will a Vikings’ Hall of Fame attract people year-round? Can a football-themed restaurant work in there? Does a health club or ‘Y’ in the stadium for community residents make sense?

Think about it. It won’t add much cost to it, and will allow people in the downtown, university and Elliot Park neighborhoods to use the place, not just athletes. Then it begins to look a little bit like a “people’s stadium.”

How to pay for it — what the team must do
First, the team pays half.

It can use all the private funding it can get its hands on — naming rights, private seat licenses, signage, premium parking — but whatever the price of the stadium project, the Vikings — or private dollars — pay 50 percent. By the way, the NFL could be expected to assist the team, too. By the way, the “business community” in this town — which claims pro sports are a necessary amenity to attract key employees — has to step up. It did in previous stadium deals.

The notion that the team will pay one-third of a roofless stadium is one that “is not considered seriously by decision-makers,” said Mondale.

Let’s say that would leave about $400 million to tackle for the public.

There is this continual talk of a local partner, but neither the city of Minneapolis nor Hennepin County alone should be stuck with another stadium bill. Minneapolis has its Target Center albatross. Hennepin County is using a tax to fund the Twins ballpark. Minneapolis also has a charter amendment that requires a referendum if it spends more than $10 million on a sports facility.

Gov. Dayton has said no general fund money can be used. So, a tiny statewide sales tax is off the table. But state funding is required.

Greater Minnesota lawmakers can’t have it both ways: They can’t demand a roof for their high school teams to play in and then claim there is no benefit to the state. In fact, the state’s general fund is the largest recipient of sports revenues.

The state of Minnesota put in zero dollars to help build Target Field, but Twins games generated $11.6 million for the state general fund in 2010. Minneapolis officials say that Target Center has averaged about $6 million annually flowing into the state coffers in sales and income taxes over the past 20 years. A study conducted by the Sports Facilities Commission in 2007 showed that if there are any tax benefits from pro sports, about 95 percent accrue to the state coffers.

The Vikings alone generate more than $10 million a year in player income taxes — paid, it can be argued, by network television dollars coming from out of the state.

User-fee funding
Dayton has said that the users of the stadium should help to pay for it. That’s ticket-buying customers, that’s corporations and, in a stretch, that’s fans anywhere in the state.

We’re not sure that such “user fees” will add up to the needed debt service of close to $40 million a year, but there is a potential cocktail of revenue streams that could get us close:

• Surcharges on tickets, souvenirs and food and beverage in the stadium: That won’t get us very far. The per capita sales of food, drinks and souvenirs at new NFL stadium totals, at best, about $20. A special tax on that activity could generate a small amount of money, but it’s a start.

• Metrowide hotel/motel/car rental tax: Dayton has mentioned this option, and certainly lodging establishments across the region benefit from the 10 Vikings home games. A Minneapolis city lodging tax generates about $6 million per year. An increase in the hotel/motel tax in surrounding counties could add as much as $8 million annually, according to authors of a bill introduced last year. A boost in car rental taxes statewide could produce another $5 million, the authors claimed. That’s $13 million annually on, generally speaking, tourists. Not all of them would be in town for Vikings’ games, and Greater Minnesota tourists spend time in the Twin Cities on other occasions, and those of us whose cars break down sometimes have to rent a car, but …

• A Vikings-themed lottery game could generate another $5 million annually, the 2010 authors claimed. A Vikings lottery game introduced last summer was highly successful.

• A tax on sports-related apparel statewide. The state’s other teams — notably the Wild and Timberwolves — would likely object if the tax generated off of this went only to a Vikings facility payoff. Last year, stadium backers said a sports apparel tax could generate more than $16 million in revenues. Sounds high, but it’s a concept that taxes sports fans.

No doubt, there are opportunity costs here. If someone wanted, we could use these revenue streams to fund other state programs in need. That’s true.

But these relatively painless taxes could cover the public’s debt, if the stadium’s price is kept as low as possible and if the Vikings put in 50 percent of the cost.

• Other stuff: On the back end of any deal, the Wilfs would have to share the increased value of their franchise, if and when they sell the team, with the state; and lawmakers should explore a complex idea that Minneapolis Mayor Rybak has kicked around that the city (or county or state) capture the increased value of land around a stadium, assuming there is an increase in the value.

It’s time to tell the Vikings these are the components that could be the basis for a deal. And see where it goes.

MinnPost’s Jay Weiner has covered sports facilities issues in the Twin Cities since 1993 and the demise of Met Center and public buyout of Target Center. He is the author of “Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles,” University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

Comments (55)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/28/2011 - 10:08 am.

    “But the politics of the debate seem to show that a roof will be part of the package. I’m told that legislators from Greater Minnesota won’t vote for a new stadium unless there’s a roof, so their high school teams can play games there.”

    That’s not what legislators are telling me, but I can’t say the legislators I talk to are completely candid with me on the issue.

    If legislators from greater Minnesota want a roof, how much are they willing to pay for it?

  2. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/28/2011 - 10:16 am.

    I’d be willing to have taxpayer funds for a football stadium on three conditions–

    1. The state and the municipality where the stadium is built receive a huge chunk of the stadium’s revenues until their contribution is paid off with interest

    2. The Vikings are enjoined from leaving the state for any reason for the useful life of the new stadium.

    3. All construction must be done by Minnesota firms using Minnesota workers.

    Otherwise, we’re in a situation where once again, billionaires have their hands out for corporate welfare.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/28/2011 - 10:20 am.

    I’m not a football fan – at any level from peewee to pro – and won’t be. It’s OK with me if the Vikings end up in L.A., or Des Moines, for that matter. That said, a new Vikings stadium increasingly has the aura of inevitability about it, and in that context, and as a resident of Minneapolis already paying taxes for another stadium (Target Field) that I don’t use, keeping the costs low and the contribution of the wealthy team owners high would be among my priorities.

    I’d like to see it all privately funded – all these “free market” advocates disappear into the woods when this possibility is mentioned – but we’re in an era of socialism for the wealthy and capitalism for the rest of us, so I agree that totally private funding isn’t likely to happen.

    All told, Jay, this is as good a place to start the conversation as any, and more thorough than some other things I’ve seen.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/28/2011 - 10:23 am.

    “The Vikings alone generate more than $10 million a year in player income taxes — paid, it can be argued, by network television dollars coming from out of the state.”

    That’s an interesting figure. I wouldn’t be quick to assume that the 10 million comes from out of state. I am sure a substantial portion of it comes from advertising costs paid by Minnesotans sent to the networks.

    Whenever we talk about how much the Vikings should pay for the stadium in terms of fractions, the question arises, a fraction of what? What do we include in the total cost of the stadium to which the fraction is applied.

    “Dayton has said that the users of the stadium should help to pay for it. That’s ticket-buying customers, that’s corporations and, in a stretch, that’s fans anywhere in the state.”

    I have never cared for that limited definition of “user”. Minnesotans benefit from the stadium whether they actually attend games or not the stadium or not. I am a Vikings fan. I watch the games, but never in person. Why should I get a total free ride from people who actually go to the bother and expense of paying to see the games in person?

    “On the back end of any deal, the Wilfs would have to share the increased value of their franchise, if and when they sell the team, with the state; and lawmakers should explore a complex idea that Minneapolis Mayor Rybak has kicked around that the city (or county or state) capture the increased value of land around a stadium, assuming there is an increase in the value.”

    The practical effect of that is that the public would own a piece of the team, and I have my doubts about that. For one thing, I don’t think a lot of politicians would understand that, and the tendency would be to overpay. For another, public ownership means a conflict of interest, since the team and the public might have different interests.

  5. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/28/2011 - 10:31 am.

    Jay,

    How much did the Wilfs pay you to write this tripe? You talk about “sordid reality of modern sports business” but you are all to anxious to wallow in it and seem incapable of standing on any kind of priciple other than having your pleasure subsidized by me and the rest of the suckers. The team already controls the debate. You and the Wilfs and the NFL and Mondale don’t want public input. That was proven when the referendum was avoided for the Twins Stadium. How much did ticket prices go up in one year after they moved out of the dome? 100% or more? The public has said time and again in polls that they don’t want to pay for this boondoggle but people like you ignore them. There is no “socially responsible” way to pay for this that ignores the public desire to not pay for it. It would be far cheaper to write the NFL a check for 500 million and tell them to go away. You play an important part in this sordid reality. You are like the spokesperson for the cigarette company saying that there is still debate about the link to cancer.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/28/2011 - 10:42 am.

    “The team already controls the debate.”

    The debate is remarkably uncontrolled, but the owners control the fate of the team, and no solution is possible that doesn’t take into account their interests. It would be nice to have a sweetheart deal, one that totally goes the public’s way, but that just isn’t possible. Demanding such a deal from the Vikings is the practical equivalent of telling them, we don’t want the team so please take them some place else. If that is our position, we should have the courage and clarity to say that, and not pretend that somehow the Vikings are in the wrong for not accepting a deal we knew was unacceptable.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/28/2011 - 10:53 am.

    “There is no “socially responsible” way to pay for this that ignores the public desire to not pay for it.”

    I don’t want to pay four bucks for gas, but I will if I want the gas. I have never been an advocate of giving the Vikings a blank check, in order to keep the team here. If we as a community decide that what the Vikings are asking for is just too much, let them go, and no hard feelings. But let’s not base our decisions on phony principles, which have no real relationship to the way business deals get done.

    The only result I can see from the decades of demagoguery we indulged ourselves in, with respect to the Twins Stadium was that the deal that was finally made, was made in the dark of night, and was quite possibly the worst deal that could have been made. And even with that horrible deal in place, the Twins Stadium seems to be widely viewed as an overwhelming success.

    I may be naive, but I do believe that if we cut out the nonsense, the oh so satisfying political posturing, and sit down with the Vikings and make some tough decisions, we can keep the Vikings here, get a new stadium in a deal that would be a whole lot better than the lousy one we made with the Twins, which after the fact, the public is so satisfied.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/28/2011 - 11:01 am.

    Jay,

    I understand you want a stadium, that’s fine. But don’t compromise your integrity. Don’t pretend that we don’t already know what the public is “willing” to spend, or how the the public feels about keeping the Vikings, or any other team. We KNOW that the public opposes public funding, and we know that the public is willing to lose the Vikings. Off hand I’d say the only plan that would receive substantial public support would a plan that either required an 80%-90% team contribution, or some kind of secure loan that the “franchise” would pay off.

    The question here, as it always is, whether or not or how elected officials and other will engineer an unpopular and unsupported public subsidy. 50% is ridiculous, it’s still 200 million more than we spend on the Twins. My wife works for the state. The fact is your going to be asking us to take a pay cut in the next budget, while you spend 30 million dollars to guarantee Ziggy Wilfs return on his Vikings investment. On top of the pay cuts and lay-offs for thousands of state workers you want to take more money out of our and everyone elses pockets in some kind of additional tax. Seriously, do you really think this this is appropriate?

    Here’s my solution. Revamp the Dome. Wilf can either build a new stadium somewhere or sign a new ten year lease agreement at the dome. If he doesn’t sign a lease agreement. Lock em out at the end of the 2011 season. If he’s gonna move, move, if he wants to stay, then pay.

    People, it’s just simply wrong to have a government that produces $30 million a year for a stadium while it cuts hundreds of millions in services for taxpayers. Shame on you if you find the money of Wilf but not for health care.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/28/2011 - 11:21 am.

    “Revamp the Dome.”

    That just isn’t an acceptable solution, and I don’t see what’s to be gained by pretending it is. Instead, let’s just tell the Vikings to go. At least that would have the virtue of honesty.

  10. Submitted by Jason Walker on 02/28/2011 - 11:23 am.

    Fantastic piece, Jay. Thanks for your common-sense reporting.
    I wish the team would just move, but as you say, it’s become clear that the rich guy will win again and get his stadium. What a shock.
    So, I applaud your approach and agree completely: If the stadium is inevitable, do it right.

  11. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/28/2011 - 11:58 am.

    I always wonder how Fritz feels about Ted shilling for the Vikings.

    It is a telling statement of the capture of the public space by private interests that the Vikings stadium would be the largest one-time public project in Minnesota with the most certain and tangible result of that expenditure being the enrichment of the Wilf family.

  12. Submitted by Jane Fintch on 02/28/2011 - 12:08 pm.

    Personally, I find the idea of us using tax payers and government money to build a stadium for a team, who has publicly disgraced this state in the past is an awful thought. For those who have forgotten the “boat incident” a few years ago need to look that up. The Vikings as much as they are part of our state and represent us need to show us they are worthy to receive our money for a new stadium. They have done well in the past yes but they are not consistent on having winning seasons. It is a rare treat for them to do as well as they did the 2009-2010 season. Don’t fool yourself into thinking they deserve a new stadium because of that, they don’t.

    While the tax payers money and government budget should focus more on our real problems. I graduated from a high school which had budget problems. Our teachers were cut, class room sizes too large and after school activities cut back or cut all together. The money we want to put down for sport stadiums would be better spent on our future generations education. We are fallin behind compared to other countries education standards and these sporting budgets are partially to blame.

    All in all, we don’t need to build a new stadium plus we have better ways to spend the money. Lastly, if the Vikings want this new stadium so badly let them pay for it. Professional athletes get paid to much as it is, have them experience a pay cut for once and put that extra money into funding a new stadium.

    I don’t wish to insult or affend anyone with my comment. I understand if there are opposite feelings but these are my opinions. I am a football fan, I’m a Vikings fan. But there isn’t the money for a new stadium. If our country spent as much time, effort, attention and money on real issues as it does on sports. We would be less in dept and a better country. Plus we wouldn’t be laughed at or criticized as much as we currently are from all the other country’s. We have bigger issues then which team needs a new stadium. So vote no a new Vikings stadium.

  13. Submitted by Ed Felien on 02/28/2011 - 12:24 pm.

    Yes. I appreciate and agree with your analysis. It’s quite similar to my own published in the February editions of Southside Pride: http://www.southsidepride.com/2011/02/articles/The_stadium.html

    In my piece, “The case for a Vikings’ Stadium” I discussed the idea of a sports club for people in the community: “When it’s not being used for Vikings games, then it should be a sports club open to all. Membership should be pro-rated so that Minneapolis residents and seniors should get lower rates. It would be an Arizona Prevention Program—to help our seniors break the habit of going down to Arizona every winter.

    The sports club should be managed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. It would be the newest park. It should have exercise and gymnastic equipment, and it should have at least one Olympic size swimming pool.

    There should be one nice restaurant that actually serves healthy food and decent wine.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/28/2011 - 12:39 pm.

    //If the stadium is inevitable, do it right.

    You can’t do something that’s wrong- right.

    I wouldn’t say the stadium is inevitable, I don’t know why people are thinking this frankly. The fact is we don’t have the money, and the governor and the legislator are locked in a near death grip over spending. I’d have to point out as well that there is nowhere for the Vikings to go right now. I know they keep talking about some kind of private stadium in L.A. but no shovel is anywhere near the ground there. If private funding works, where’s the deal and we can’t we get one here? On the contrary, I don’t see how a stadium deal is possible when you have Republicans signing no new tax pledges and a Governor who’s cutting funding to nursing homes, and they can’t compromise. None of the counties have the money either even if the state authorizes something. This is the worse possible time for the Vikings to be demanding a new stadium, and frankly time is now on our side, things are no better in LA. or anywhere else. Fix the dome and lock em out if they don’t want to play there in 2012 and beyond.

    Hiram, I wouldn’t renovate the dome until after they sign by the way, and I’d still want them to pay 80% of the renovation costs.

    I don’t know about anyone else around here but I don’t want my government working on stadium deals. I want my government working on nursing homes, and keeping sex offenders locked up, and plowing my roads, and fixing the gazillion pot holes that this wicked winter has created all over the state just for starters.

  15. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 02/28/2011 - 12:57 pm.

    Metrowide hotel/motel/car rental tax: How is this a “user fee?”

    A deer hits my car, it goes in the shop. I have to rent a car to get to work for a few days. I pay the stadium “user fee” without ever setting foot in the stadium.

    We decide to stay in the city rather than drive the 25 miles back home after a night out for music. We get a hotel room and pay the stadium “user fee” without ever setting foot inside the stadium.

    Tourists–a big part of Minnesota’s economy–come to town and rent a car for their stay here. The last thing they see before leaving Minnesota is a tax on their car-rental bill for a stadium they never set foot in. Nice send-off.

    Enough with trying to disguise hotel/motel/car rental stadium taxes as “user fees” paid only by stadium attendees, Weiner. That’s B.S. It’s another back-door way to transfer hundreds of millions in tax dollars to billionaires’ pockets in increased revenue and value for their franchise.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/28/2011 - 01:16 pm.

    “I wouldn’t renovate the dome until after they sign by the way, and I’d still want them to pay 80% of the renovation costs.”

    The Vikings won’t accept a renovation of the Dome.

  17. Submitted by will lynott on 02/28/2011 - 01:21 pm.

    Paul, amen.

    Jay, what part of “NO!” don’t you get??

  18. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 02/28/2011 - 01:37 pm.

    Thanks for asking THE question,Paul. Where are the Vikings gonna go? California? You think our economy and state budget has issues?

    And there’s about 3-4 franchises in worse shape than the Vikings. Look, I’m as big a fan as the next guy, but I know when I’m holding a pretty decent hand. There’s no way I’m folding on this one.

  19. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 02/28/2011 - 01:39 pm.

    Jay- this is an interesting piece, but you lost me with this description of the owners self-financing: “it’s a dream. It denies the sordid reality of modern sports business and facilities financing.”

    I’m afraid I can’t accept the notion that “sordid reality” can’t be changed. I mean really, this is our answer? The current system stinks, so instead of standing up to it and trying to fix it, we shrug and say “them’s the breaks”? This overarching theme of the wealthiest of the wealthy prospering, while the poor and the middle class stagnate and regress, is coming up in almost every industry, sports included. So we’re going to propose another transfer of wealth to the billionaires??? No amount of civic pride (misplaced, in my opinion), or team history, is worth this.

    I refuse to tell my sons that “yes, when you were kids and we were all very much aware that the rich were prospering and all others were treading water, we thought it was a good idea to spend some more money to keep a family named Wilf very very wealthy. You went to school with more and more kids in your class each year, and the school building was far older (built in 1930) than the supposed obsolete stadium, but boy did we enjoy 3 hours every Sunday in the fall…”

    I mean honestly, this is pathetic. I had to quick google how old my sons school is- and I have to say the 1930 date surprised me. This year the heating system has been spotty- some days over 85 degrees in his class- a perfect learning environment. And the sad reality is that the stadium is almost certainly going to be up long before the school is ever considered for replacement.

    I will be amazingly proud if our community is the one to stand up to this highly-profitable industry, and tells them to spend their own money, we have our priorities. Or, we can keep transferring our funds to the uber-rich, because that’s the sordid reality…

  20. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/28/2011 - 01:42 pm.

    What a bunch of hooey.

    If they want the right to advertise to our eyeballs, they ought to pay for the privilege of building a stadium in which to conduct the games. It is ridiculous to argue that we should pay for a stadium with tax dollars, the sole purpose of which is to sell us junk we don’t need. Have you noticed that a 60 minute NFL game takes over three hours to broadcast? The remaining time is filled largely with advertising, whether directly in the form of discrete ads, or more subversively, when the color commentator announces that night’s/week’s upcoming schedule of don’t-miss-it programming.

    Why do we, societally, find this so valuable that we’re willing to scrape up 400+ billion dollars we don’t have for this privilege? It is complete and utter hooey that writers like Weiner and so-called public servants like Mondale leave such questions unasked and unanswered.

  21. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/28/2011 - 01:50 pm.

    “A Vikings-themed lottery game could generate another $5 million annually, the 2010 authors claimed. A Vikings lottery game introduced last summer was highly successful.”

    This is inaccurately painted as a ‘relatively painless’ solution. It would actually divert $5 million from other lottery games, the revenue of which goes to the state. Point being; creating a vikings lottery game would not inspire new lottery players, it would merely siphon a portion of lottery revenue into the corporate welfare bucket. This is equivalent to pulling the money out of the general fund.

  22. Submitted by frank watson on 02/28/2011 - 02:07 pm.

    Ted needs to call the NFL and the NFLPA and get on the 9 BILLION DOLLAR per year the owners are trying to split up.

  23. Submitted by frank watson on 02/28/2011 - 02:29 pm.

    Hiram Foster says: Why should I get a total free ride from people who actually go to the bother and expense of paying to see the games in person? –

    Hiram, you do pay. Do you shop at Menards? Buy beer or cars? Advertisers pay big bucks to promote their products. That cost of advertising is passed onto you.

  24. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 02/28/2011 - 03:45 pm.

    One other thing that bothers me about this article:

    There are essentially 4 options here:
    1-The team builds its own stadium
    2-The team goes elsewhere
    3-The team gets a new stadium with some public money
    4- The team gets a stdium with all public money.

    Perhaps I should be happy that option 4 wasn’t addressed, but I find it striking that options 1 and 2 get 229 and 124 words, respectively, in a 2,800 word piece. Option 3 gets the rest, which, seems like a tacit endorsement.

    You could do so much more with this: you mention a handful of teams that have built their own stadiums; identify them, talk about how they are doing, explain how things played out. Are they the few owners with any integrity? Were they forced to do so because local politicians had spines? Were they so flush with cash that it was easy? Sorry, but to just dismiss them as outliers and move on is not informative, and again, is an endorsement of the option you devote so much space to.

    Same thing with the threat to move: is it realistic? Many commenters point out that LA has issues of its own, and that the vikings are not alone in terms of duress. You give us “the Wilfs would likely sell the team, and it could move somewhere where a stadium is being built or a sweetheart deal awaits.” Well, yes. But how likely is it, even if the Wilfs want it to happen? How close is LA to getting a stadium plan funded? Does it have a chance in hell given their deficit, which makes our nice litttle 5 billion dollar shortfall look quaint? So much more to explore here. Perhaps the old sportswriter in you dies hard, but others give thes other options serious consideration, and they warrant more than what you gave them.

  25. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/28/2011 - 04:23 pm.

    Do you shop at Menards? Buy beer or cars? Advertisers pay big bucks to promote their products. That cost of advertising is passed onto you.

    As it happens, I don’t shop at Menard’s and I don’t buy beer. And I am a channel flipper. I don’t even watch the commercials.

  26. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 02/28/2011 - 06:34 pm.

    Can’t we just take up a collection, buy a fleet of moving vans and a raft of plane tickets and send the whole damn lot anywhere they want to go? It’d save us a whole lot of money, but I am afraid that no one would take them. Let’s be honest, there isn’t a city/state/anywhere in the country that can afford to build them the stadium that they want. The whole place is broke. Maybe someone should tell that to our legislators. It seems to me that kind of information might be useful in negotiating a deal.

  27. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/28/2011 - 07:25 pm.

    Entertainment spending is fungible.
    If people don’t spend it on the Vikings, they will spend it on something else in the state. I don’t have the numbers, but I would guess that a strong majority of those who attend Vikings games are from in state.

    And has anyone calculated the cost to local law enforcement of having the Vikings
    (DUI’s after games, etc)?

  28. Submitted by WIlliam Bentley on 02/28/2011 - 11:22 pm.

    I’m tired of hearing that the project will require a roof.

    Politicians speak as though a roof would turn a stadium into a money-maker, but the fact of the matter is that a roof wouldn’t even pay for itself in the long run. The -real- economic impact of a Superbowl is something like 30 to 50 million. The tax take on that is what? Maybe 5 million? We all know the Superbowl wouldn’t come around more than once. A roof is $200 million!

    Also, who’s got the nonsense idea that the state high school football championship requires a roof? High school games are played outdoors in the preceding weeks without issue. Wisconsin plays their state championship in Camp Randall stadium.

    The Metrodome is still a perfectly suitable stadium for every non-NFL event it hosts. If the non-football events aren’t significant enough to justify keeping that stadium standing, then they certainly aren’t worth the cost of a $200 million roof on a new stadium and the associated upkeep of that!

    This project needs more funding from those who really benefit – the Wilfs. It also needs to have costs drastically reduced. No roof = $200 million savings right off the bat. No roof also means the Vikings can get back to playing real football.

  29. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/01/2011 - 06:03 am.

    The Dome is used a lot in the winter, although I can’t say it’s used in ways that would pay off the cost of the roof.

    It’s been said by some that out state legislators want a roof as a condition of their support for the Dome. That isn’t what different legislators are telling me, but this is an issue on which all, or at least most legislators get very cagy.

    The politics of the stadium are volatile because people want two contrary things from their legislators with some degree of passion. They want a stadium, and they don’t want to pay for one. How can a legislator do both those contradictory things? One is the solution Jay proposes. Construct an array of taxes and fees so complex that an illusion is created that no one is paying for the stadium at all. Another way, and this is how the Twins Stadium got built, is to find some governmental entity that no one really cares about, one that’s comprised of political dead enders and somehow shift the responsibility for the political decision onto them.

  30. Submitted by Victoria Wilson on 03/01/2011 - 07:36 am.

    I hesitate to post a comment on a blog about a football stadium; I barely know the rules of the game. At first light my tent is pitched right there next to all the rest who can’t possible justify contributing public money to a structure whose entrance fee shuts out most citizens, most of the time.

    I do understand that great cities should have great edifices. It’s just that a three year recession has put people out of their jobs, out of their homes, and put the rest of us on a budget. The timing is off for luxuries.

    I do understand that big business uses professional sports to attract top talent, entice new clients and incent their employees. But then let big business and the wealthy Mr. Wilf pay for their stadium.

    Perhaps there is another trade that would work. What if the Vikings, like so many corporations, agreed to a contribution to the community? Say they pledged to take on four schools, conveniently located in close proximity to the dome. Not for a flashy Saturday rally with great photo opts, but for a school year commitment of five hours a week per school. What if through the mundane repetition of homework help, playground supervision, PTA meetings, afterschool programs they were able to communicate to our kids that we know they can learn; that we expect them to learn? What if they could make a tangible impact on Minnesota’s most embarrassing failure: the education achievement gap?

    It would be up to the power brokers to determine whether the Vikings have the stomach for a Daytons/Target commitment to the community versus a Northwest Airlines “we will bring jobs to Minnesota” commitment. But at the end of the day the state could get paid in full for participating in funding a new Vikings stadium.

  31. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/01/2011 - 09:55 am.

    It’s funny people keep saying the Dome isn’t an option. The truth is, it’s probably the only option. Fact is, the Vikings have nowhere else to play, and unless they build they’re own stadium they’re not going to have anywhere else to play.

    And let’s say at the end of the 2011 they announce they’re leaving for LA in 2014 where a shinny new stadium awaits them. I say: “Great, where are you going to play for the next two years, because your locked out of the Dome”?

  32. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/01/2011 - 10:39 am.

    //Perhaps there is another trade that would work. What if the Vikings, like so many corporations, agreed to a contribution to the community? Say they pledged to take on four schools, conveniently located in close proximity to the dome.

    Victoria, I don’t think we want football teams running our schools. Let’s just pay for our schools and let football teams fend for themselves.

  33. Submitted by Dave Kopesky on 03/01/2011 - 11:47 am.

    Those arguing for a renovation of the Metrodome only need look to Indianapolis. They spent a chunk of money to renovate the Hoosierdome, aka RCA Dome, and within 10 years the Colts demanded a new palace, they got it and the RCA Dome was imploded – suites, new concourses and all. The team has said no so many times to MOA renovation just accept the fact there are just two options, team leaves or new expensive playground for the Wilfs. I and this community can survive with either one.

  34. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/01/2011 - 12:03 pm.

    “What if the Vikings, like so many corporations, agreed to a contribution to the community?”

    Don’t be shy. For the Vikings, it’s a question of the money, not in which government or public pocket it goes. If that offer makes the stadium an easier sell, I am sure they would consider it but it wouldn’t make much substantive difference.

    What Jay is proposing is strategies that make a stadium deal more palatable, but not really much better. It all comes down to the size of the check or checks we end up writing. Bells and whistles can be used to divert us from that fact, but let’s not forget, bells and whistles don’t come free either.

  35. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/01/2011 - 12:13 pm.

    “the Vikings have nowhere else to play,”

    That’s calling what maybe the Vikings bluff. And it might be true that the Vikings have no better place to go. The alternative locations for them might be an interesting topic to explore in other columns. I don’t believe that it’s been covered that much.

    For me, on this issue, the most important thing to remember is that an NFL team can be successful in an area with a much smaller population than is the case with a baseball team. They have fewer tickets to sell, and are more dependent on national financial deals. That means that the class of cities that are viable options is larger than it was when the Twins were threatening their move. LA is the obvious choice, but the Vikes are third or fourth in line to move there. And if Jacksonville, widely considered first in line for LA moves there, that slot opens up for the Vikings. Other possibilities include Oklahoma City, which as I recall gave terrific support to the Saints after Katrina. Canadian cities like Toronto are also a possibility.

    My own opinion, for whatever it is worth, is that if we call the Vikings bluff, they will move.

    “”Great, where are you going to play for the next two years, because your locked out of the Dome”?”

    The Rose Bowl. There is no shortage of football stadiums around the country, and the NFL would never, ever, allow one of their franchises to be blackmailed in that manner.

  36. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/01/2011 - 01:52 pm.

    //NFL would never, ever, allow one of their franchises to be blackmailed in that manner.

    Yes, the blackmail can only go in one direction. The NFL does a much better job of protecting it’s constituents than our government does. If the Rosebowl is such a good place for the Vikings to play, why aren’t they playing there? Why didn’t they play there when the roof collapsed? Who would their fans be?

    Look, the Vikings and the Twins both choose to spend years trying to get public subsidies instead of building new stadiums. It is no one elses fault that the Vikings are now in their last year of their metrodome lease and have no nowhere else to go, so no one is talking about blackmail, it’s simply a consequence of a bad business decision. The pro sports economic business model is based on public subsidy, and that’s not ultimately sustainable. Sooner or later it will collapse. These guys will be stuck in their stadiums and they’ll have to solve their own problems without a public bailouts.

  37. Submitted by Victoria Wilson on 03/01/2011 - 03:42 pm.

    ” but it wouldn’t make much substantive difference.”

    Hiram, did you just say that the army of volunteers and concerned parents that support our school systems don’t make a substantive difference?

    Ah-if only Moliere was still alive to make all those who only find value on spread sheets and bank accounts subjects of one of his piece de theatre. Vive La Comedie-Francaise!

  38. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/01/2011 - 04:43 pm.

    “did you just say that the army of volunteers and concerned parents that support our school systems don’t make a substantive difference?”

    I wouldn’t value the contributions you suggest for the Vikings at a level that would have much impact on stadium costs.

    “the blackmail can only go in one direction.”

    Indeed. But the Vikings are no more blackmailing our community then Target is, when they refuse to give me my prescriptions unless I fork over 8 bucks in ransom money.

    “If the Rose Bowl is such a good place for the Vikings to play, why aren’t they playing there?”

    There are a number of reasons why the Vikings haven’t moved to LA. They have, or at least had, a contract with the Dome. The NFL likes having LA in reserve, and because Jacksonville is ahead of the Vikes in line to go there. Because Zygi seems to be an honorable guy who has made a commitment to stay in Minnesota, one that has proven durable, but which I would suggest is not unlimited.

    “It is no one elses fault that the Vikings are now in their last year of their metrodome lease and have no nowhere else to go, so no one is talking about blackmail, it’s simply a consequence of a bad business decision.”

    You want to call the Vikings bluff, should they make one? As I said, there are a number of communities around this country and in Canada who would love to have an NFL franchise.

    “The pro sports economic business model is based on public subsidy, and that’s not ultimately sustainable.”

    It is, but I see no reason to conclude that it isn’t sustainable. Practically all NFL football franchises are raging successes. Communities seem to have little trouble paying for their stadiums, I can’t think of a single one that’s closed. The NFL, unlike the MLB, is run by competent business people. Among other things, they have done a terrific job in keeping costs low.

  39. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/01/2011 - 05:25 pm.

    //You want to call the Vikings bluff, should they make one

    Let me clear, this has nothing do with “bluffs” on my end. Calling a bluff suggests that I want the Vikings to stay, and think they will even if we don’t build them a stadium. My position is quite different. In fact I think we’d be better off culturally, politically, and economically without the Vikings. I think these stadiums drain public resources, and distort public priorities. At best I don’t care whether or not the Vikings leave. I’m simply pointing out the fact that they have nowhere else to play, and frankly I think the public is in a much more powerful bargaining position than it’s been in the past so I don’t why guys like Eric are offering to cover 50% of the costs and brand new stadiums right out of the gate. Remind me never to have you guys negotiate a deal for me.

    The model is unsustainable because the public costs of these stadiums and arenas are now running into the billions, and it is in fact getting harder and harder to crams these things down taxpayers throats. One by one stadium boosters are using up and losing effective tactics, arguments, tricks that have delivered public subsidies in the past. As the country settles into the new normal economy that’s going to be much less prosperous than it was in the past public resistance will grow. These particular welfare programs for the wealthy are just getting harder and harder to slip by taxpayers. Sooner or later the public will stop building these stadiums on sports billionaires terms. We just can’t justify publicly subsidizing sports and not health care. It’s a bubble and all bubbles eventually pop.

  40. Submitted by William Jewell on 03/02/2011 - 12:10 am.

    People’s Stadium, is one in which the people get to chose, not a billionaire owner and a term I used a month ago and hurt some feelings downtown when they got my mail, and so the Strib.’s Feb. 13 Editorial. Stadium will be used 97% of the time for events, 3% for the Vikings, and the best with easy and free parking is Mall of America and the only one that will pay for itself. Jay has written the most comprehensive how to yet and it will be shared on my new, today, twitter account, vikingbuzz7, that one person has signed up to receive, who, let’s just say he has an office in St. Paul; yes…

  41. Submitted by WIlliam Bentley on 03/02/2011 - 12:17 am.

    If the cost of an open air stadium is still around $700 million and Wilf is still only willing to pay 1/3 of that, the state/county/city/whatever will need to come up with $466.67 million. That’s an unworkably ridiculous number already. To add a roof would bring the total local contribution to something like $666.67 million, a 43% price increase. Given the meager events a roof would afford this increase is unjustifiable. Heck, $466.67 million alone is unjustifiable. Heck, any tax contribution is unjustifiable, but at least an open air stadium would make the football watchable.

    Plus, I’m pretty sure that $666 million figure confirms that the idea of adding a roof is evil and spawned by Satan himself.

  42. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/02/2011 - 06:11 am.

    “The model is unsustainable because the public costs of these stadiums and arenas are now running into the billions, and it is in fact getting harder and harder to crams these things down taxpayers throats.”

    I seem to remember hearing that there hasn’t been a publicly financed NFL stadium built since 2006. But it’s also true that no current and existing stadium has closed or seems in danger of closing.

  43. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 03/02/2011 - 10:18 am.

    Wow. 42 comments. Clearly this topic resonates…

    I’ll just add in to build on something Mr Foster wrote in #42: “I seem to remember hearing that there hasn’t been a publicly financed NFL stadium built since 2006”; which also feeds into Mr Weiner’s point that the status quo is that owners get assistance.

    What I would ask is, does the great recession change nothing? Do we accept the status quo from pre-recession days, or do we say “yeah, you guys had a nice thing going, with citizens helping you get richer and chipping in for your palaces. Now we’ve seen the crash, and most citizens have not seen their home-values (often the majority of their savings) or their retirement accounts recover, whereas the NFL just had it’s most profitable year. So, things have changed. Sorry.”

    I’m firmly in the “things have changed” camp. The wealth disparity problem is real and growing; I want no role in shifting more money from the general population to another asset for the Wilfs.

  44. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/02/2011 - 11:45 am.

    “What I would ask is, does the great recession change nothing?”

    Stadium decisions have long term consequences, and it’s important to pay attention to those and not just the economic conditions prevailing now.

    In a lot of ways, the recession works in favor of making a deal now. Interest rates are down, the cost of labor and possibly materials might be cheap. While the NFL’s business is good now, I expect it to get better as the economy improves, and I expect, with a more favorable labor agreement.

    We can make a good deal with NFL right now, but I firmly believe that as time goes on, the deal we would have to make to keep the Vikings here or attract another team will only get worse for us, and better for the NFL.

  45. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/02/2011 - 02:03 pm.

    //But it’s also true that no current and existing stadium has closed or seems in danger of closing.

    Well according to you guys the Dome in closing.

  46. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 03/02/2011 - 02:31 pm.

    Mr Foster- What I’m wondering, and what I haven’t seen an answer to other than what you said early on (“It would be nice to have a sweetheart deal, one that totally goes the public’s way, but that just isn’t possible”), is why self-financing a stadium is impossible. Especially because this is not breaking new ground, it’s been done. To me, the recession is not just a time to cash in on low interest rates and labor cost, but also a time to examine values. And the value of shifting wealth from citizens to billionaires (with the side-benefits of civic pride, and some variably defined economic benefit to the state), is one that could stand to be re-evaluated.

  47. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/02/2011 - 04:45 pm.

    “Well according to you guys the Dome in closing.”

    But not for financial reasons.

    “why self-financing a stadium is impossible?”

    The numbers don’t work for the team. The Wilfs feel they have the right to a certain level of profitability from their investment, and that can happen only when their investment in the stadium is capped at a certain level, one considerably below the cost of actually building it. Now they don’t have the right to get that from us, but it’s pretty much of a given that they can get it from someone, a market reality we need to recognize.

    “the recession is not just a time to cash in on low interest rates and labor cost, but also a time to examine values.”

    A reasonable issue to raise in a recession or any other time. The value I would put forward is schools. In my personal and professional life, that’s something I care a lot more about than the Vikings. Given the option, I would spend the Vikings stadium money on education instead. But I won’t get that option. Instead, I think we can have a stadium with a good enough deal that doesn’t negatively affect too much else, and that in various incalculable and intangible ways that don’t show up on balance sheets, strengthens our communities in ways that will inevitably benefit our schools, and other worthwhile things that others value, and that I value too.

  48. Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 03/03/2011 - 09:02 am.

    If an open-air stadium is such a great idea, why not use the 2 year old, supposedly “state-of-the-art” TCF Bank Stadium for 16 games per year, rather than the 6 currently envisioned?

    It was SO much fun to watch it being shoveled out so the Vikes could play one game there in December (at a cost of some $400,000.00)!

  49. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/03/2011 - 04:36 pm.

    “If an open-air stadium is such a great idea, why not use the 2 year old, supposedly “state-of-the-art” TCF Bank Stadium for 16 games per year, rather than the 6 currently envisioned?”

    The sensible choice to me would have been to build an NFL stadium for the Gophers. But, they tell me, neither the Vikings nor the Gophers wanted that, and so it wasn’t done. To this day, I think that was a major mistake. But it’s done, and what was built for the Gophers was a stadium which wasn’t suitable for the NFL, and that’s not something that can be changed now.

  50. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/04/2011 - 11:05 am.

    I’m still trying to figure why and how the Vikings are going to play in the Rose Bowl if they get locked out of the Dome. Who’s gonna go see them there? By the way just ya’ll know, I just got back from Panama, and even there for some reason people laugh when you mention the Vikings.

    I also have a hard time being impressed with Wilf’s commitment to keep the team in MN since he’s had no choice thus far. And who exactly was it that promised him a stadium anyways?

  51. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/04/2011 - 05:09 pm.

    “I’m still trying to figure why and how the Vikings are going to play in the Rose Bowl if they get locked out of the Dome.”

    I was assuming the franchise would move there. Or perhaps to Jacksonville after the Jaguars moved to LA.

    Wilf has done nothing to suggest that he is moving. He hasn’t publicly visited other cities. He hasn’t peppered his conversation with words like LA, Orlando, Oklahoma City, or Toronto. It strikes me that the guy has been remarkably patient and forbearing despite being the target of a lot of abuse.

    Nobody promised him a stadium, but it’s pretty clear a new stadium was factored into the price he paid for the team. And I am pretty sure that the Vikings will not continue to be a viable franchise unless they get a new stadium from someone.

  52. Submitted by Willard B. Shapira on 03/06/2011 - 05:38 am.

    1. It’s too bad the heartfelt and intelligent comments on the Vikings stadium issue are apparently limited to MinnPost readers. But if anyone knows how to transmit them en masse to the governor, mark.dayton@state.mn.us; Ted Mondale@state.mn.us and the Legislature, you would be performing a great public service.
    It’s just not enough to urge our elected public officials to read these comments; if we dump them in their laps, we have denied their deniability.
    While you’re at it, copy the major print and electronic media.
    2. I believe that if we have someone who knows how to find out Zygi Wilf’s net worth and-or that of his various enterprises and make that known to the public, it might stop the stadium drive in its tracks. Failing that, we need a financial expert with credentials who is willing to give a (pardon the expression) ballpark figure of Wilf’s and-or the Wilfs’ net worth.
    I’m guessing it’s at least several billion dollars. Theirs is kept differently from Carl Pohlad’s who, Forbes told us, at one time was worth $3.2b.
    I used to think disclosure of such a figure would automatically mean Game Over. But I would put nothing past any of our politicians today.
    I’d never vote for Dayton again based solely on this issue. He’s trying to pay off his political debt to Big Labor through new stadium construction jobs.
    He is deathly afraid of the Vikings leaving on his watch and going down in history as “The governor who lost the Vikings” which would make him a people’s governor in my estimation.
    I have written numerous letters to the editor of the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press about public funding of stadiums for as long as Jay Weiner has been covering the topic.
    I have privately reamed out the management of the Star Tribune for its self-serving stance on the issue to the point where they no longer will publish my letters on any topic.
    I believe big-time sports including football and basketball at the U of M have become a blight on the community and detract from what should be the community’s basic goal of meeting our pressing social needs, starting from the bottom and working our way up. Way up above the issues of foreclosure, homelessness, unemployment and hunger is a stadium for a public bloodsucker. If Zygi were Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, he would say, “I’m doing God’s work.”
    Minnesota, with our ongoing stadium issue, has become America in microcosm: the rich gaining political power to socialize the debt of their private investment.
    If you believe public money shuld be spent only for public projects, you must tell this ASAP to the governor, your Legislative reps and your other officials at the county and city levels.
    You also must express your thoughts ASAP via opinion@startribune.com and letters@pioneerpress.com as well as to the bulletin boards of the electronica media.
    Those of you in Minneapolis and Hennepin County: get ready for lightning to strike twice: you are going to be slapped with a second stadium tax and Dayton will reprise Pawlenty’s act and waive the referendum on a new stadium.
    You read it here first.
    Will Shapira
    Roseville
    651-493-7473
    wshapira@comcast.net

  53. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/08/2011 - 06:45 am.

    I have always assumed that Zygi was a zillionaire just for purposes of argument, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised that if you took a closer look at his finances, that as a real estate guy, he might not be doing quite as well in this economy as many of us assume. In any event, Zygi’s finances are his problem, not ours.

    I don’t think Mark Dayton is deathly afraid of losing the Vikings, although like all politicians, he isn’t all that excited about getting the blame for it. I am probably closer to the politics of the issue than most and here’s my impression. In the grand scheme of things down in St. Paul, particularly with respect to budgetary issues, the most important thing to know about the Vikings Stadium is how little it matters. At it’s most expensive, in terms of the impact on the state, the Vikings and their stadium are small potatoes. That’s why the issue is do easy to demagogue. Consider it in terms of the Twins Stadium. We made just about the worst deal possible with the Twins, yet how has it affected your life? How much has it really cost you in sales tax? Do you even notice? And for myself, one thing I would insist upon, one thing I have discussed with my legislators, is that the burden of a Vikings stadium should not be imposed on one county, but should be shared generally throughout the state, a much better deal for each of us individually.

  54. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/11/2011 - 10:14 am.

    //Nobody promised him a stadium, but it’s pretty clear a new stadium was factored into the price he paid for the team. And I am pretty sure that the Vikings will not continue to be a viable franchise unless they get a new stadium from someone.

    It always comes back to taxpayers guaranteeing Wilf’s investment. How exactly is it that government has no mandate to provide health care, but is expected to guarantee billionaire sports team investments?

    By the way Hiram, I’m pretty sure you just confirmed that the Vikings have nowhere else to play in 2012 or 2013 without the dome. Is the Rose Bowl the stadium they need right now? It’s 80 years old? I see their renovating it, but if a renovated Rose Bowl is an option, why isn’t a renovated Metrodome?

  55. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/11/2011 - 01:20 pm.

    //That’s why the issue is do easy to demagogue. Consider it in terms of the Twins Stadium. We made just about the worst deal possible with the Twins, yet how has it affected your life? How much has it really cost you in sales tax?

    I know you guys like to pretend this is a personal issue, but it’s public policy issue. We’re giving $20 million dollars to the stadium at the same time we’re cutting millions of dollars from public services. Instead of raising $350 million to maintain low income housing, health services, Henn Co. roads, or schools and battered women’s shelters we raised $350 million for a pro baseball bailout. The question is are we personally missing the sales tax, the question is are we missing decent roads and and small class sizes? And the answer is: “yes”. Hiram is right, we could’ve raised $350 million dollar for schools, or light rail… and we would hardly have felt it.

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