Road costs remain a speed bump on the way to a new Vikings stadium. So, too, does “a gap” in a financing plan to secure a new $1 billion-plus stadium plan in Arden Hills.
How that financing gap gets filled is where the team, the county and, perhaps, the NFL will come in.
Gov. Mark Dayton began his day with a 7 a.m. meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and some of his top aides to discuss stadium issues. Also in attendance at the Governor’s Residence were the chief authors of a Vikings bill, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont.
Under the premium seat waiver, team owners who invest in new stadiums are allowed to keep the visitors’ share of gate revenue generated by suites and luxury seating. The normal NFL ticket breakdown is this: Home team keeps 66 percent, and visiting team gets 34 percent of revenues. But, the premium seat waiver would allow Vikings owner Zygi Wilf to keep that 34 percent but only to help finance the stadium.
For example a $5,000 club seat could be defined as $1,000 for the season ticket, but $4,000 for the annual fee to obtain the right to the seat. The Vikings would not need to share that revenue and projected revenue with visiting owners. They would retain it and use that stream as a means to borrow money to help finance the stadium.
The league views this as its contribution to a stadium.
What also came out of the morning meeting was a decision, Dayton said, “to come up with a definitive number by tomorrow [Wednesday].” That hard cost of roads to handle traffic to and from the Arden Hills site will determine how much the team and the Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega must increase their contributions.
So far, the Wilfs have said they will bring $407 million in private money to the table, including naming rights. The county commissioners have talked about a half-cent county-wide sales tax.
The contributions from the owners and county will have to increase because Dayton, Rosen and Lanning reiterated this morning what they’ve been saying for a week: The state’s limit is $300 million.
State Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel, who was also in the meeting, said his staff would be working to get hard numbers on road needs in the next 24 hours.
The more expensive the roads, the more that expenditure will cut into the state’s $300 million cap. Undoubtedly, road costs will add “a gap” in the finance plan, Dayton said.
Another issue dogging the finalizing of a stadium deal is the uncertainty of the NFL’s labor situation. Without knowing how the owners and players will distribute revenues — especially broadcast and digital revenues — it is difficult for state negotiators to nail down just what the team is capable of investing.
All that said, with Goodell’s involvement, the momentum for a bill to be rewritten and introduced in the legislative session’s final days is picking up.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Dayton said.
But, so far, no hearings are set, no new bill has been written and just how many votes are out there for a stadium as the state budget resolution remains at an impasse remains unclear.
Plus, an Environmental Impact Study must be done on the Arden Hills site, and the Metropolitan Council can be expected to weigh in.
One thing is for sure: Any chatter about the team moving out of town if this falls apart is on the far back burner. Goodell said there is no appetite to even discuss relocating the team.
Goodell is in the Twin Cities to participate in court-ordered labor negotiations. He did not make a special trip just for the stadium issue.
Wilf and his aides were not in attendance today, and Dayton downplayed that absence.