SBD/Issue 48/Facilities & Venues

Vikings Balk At Financial Incentives To Extend Metrodome Lease

MSFC Threatening To Penalize Vikings If
Team Does Not Agree To Lease Extension
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) is "considering a carrot-and-stick approach to get the Minnesota Vikings to extend the team's lease, threatening to penalize the team if it doesn't agree," but Vikings officials "say it won't work," according to Kevin Duchschere of the MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE. A MSFC resolution approved Tuesday by the organization's finance committee "promises the Vikings a rent-free Metrodome and all post-season stadium revenues from last season through 2014." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, "It's unacceptable for a number of reasons, and the lease extension is a non-starter." He added that team officials were "'blindsided' by the proposal and that they will continue efforts to reach a stadium agreement in the legislative session." Duchschere reports the proposal, which is expected to go before the full commission for a vote tomorrow, "would keep the Vikings in the Dome at least two more seasons after the team's lease expires in 2011, with year-to-year renewal options after that." Vikings officials have "made their case that a public-private partnership must be formed in 2010 to build a new multipurpose facility to host the team and other large events." MSFC Finance Committee Chair Paul Thatcher said that the resolution is "aimed at keeping the Vikings in town long enough to secure a new publicly financed stadium." He added there is "no way that's going to happen in the 2010 legislative session ... as the state confronts another soaring deficit." Thatcher said legislators "can't discuss this with this economic and political climate. ... There isn't a chance in a trillion -- there's no one with a political IQ over 3 who thinks that it's possible." Duchschere notes if the team declines the MSFC proposal, the resolution states the commission "could resume charging $4[M] a year in rent." The commission has "forgiven the team's rent since 2002 to help the Vikings keep up revenue-wise with other NFL teams playing in new stadiums" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/18).

DOME SWEET DOME? MINNPOST.com's Jay Weiner noted the MSFC resolution "could be viewed as either hostile to the team or as the first -- albeit tense -- step in keeping the team in the Metrodome beyond its current lease." The MSFC offered the Vikings "some new cash (about $675,000 a year), some longstanding cash but with new strings attached (about $4 million a year) and some new-stadium planning assistance ($500,000 a year)" (MINNPOST.com, 11/17).

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