SBD/Issue 161/Facilities & Venues

Minnesota Lawmakers Unveil Proposal For $791M Vikings Stadium

Vikings Would Pay $264M, Taxpayers Would
Pay $527M In New Vikings Stadium Proposal

A proposal for a new Vikings stadium was unveiled yesterday at the Minnesota state Legislature which "envisions a $791[M] fixed-roof stadium" for which the Vikings would pay $264M and taxpayers would pay $527M, "with construction bonds paid back over 40 years," according to Jason Hoppin of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. As part of the proposal, the stadium "would be publicly owned, and the team would sign an unprecedented 40-year lease." Lawmakers pitched "new taxes as a way to have those who use the stadium pay for it," as a new 6.875% tax on sports memorabilia "reportedly would raise nearly" $17M annually. Area hotels also "would be taxed an additional 1.5[%], and metro rental cars would be taxed an additional" 2.5%, while a sports-themed lottery is "also part of the mix." However, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Chief of Staff Brian McClung yesterday said of the proposal, "We remain opposed to any stadium plan that includes tax increases, including the hotel tax, jersey tax and rental car tax in one of the plans unveiled today." Hoppin notes under the proposal a "new 13-member stadium authority would be established," which would "absorb the assets -- including the Metrodome -- of the Vikings' landlord, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which would be abolished." The bill also would "lock in the Vikings' relationship to Minnesota forever," as it "contains a provision that should the team ever move, its 'heritage and records, including the name, logo, colors, history, playing records, trophies and memorabilia' would transfer to the state"  (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/4).

VIKINGS HAVE RESERVATIONS: In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba notes "within minutes" after the proposal was released, "even the Vikings expressed reservations." The Vikings "would be required to sign a 40-year lease at the new stadium," and should Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf sell the team, he "would also be obligated to use some of the profits from the sale to help pay the stadium's remaining debt." The Vikings "did not join in the proposal's unveiling," and Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that the team is "not enamored of having to pay $264[M] because the project was based on the stadium having a roof, a feature that he said the Vikings do not need." Bagley added the Vikings also "would be the only NFL team to sign a 40-year lease." Meanwhile, Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the bill "still has a very rocky, tough road to get down to become law at this point" of the legislative session. Kelliher: "I'm not sure that this bill is ready for prime time." But Kaszuba notes the proposal will get its first hearing today, "going before a House local-government committee" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/4).

NO STADIUM, NO WILF? ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert noted the Vikings "have two more years on their lease at the Metrodome, after which they will become franchise 'free agents.'" Seifert: "I don't think anything significant will happen immediately if the bill is rejected this year, other than the possibility of higher costs if the issue is re-considered next winter." But if it "ultimately becomes clear that funding won't be approved," Seifert wrote he believes Wilf will "give strong consideration to selling the team" (ESPN.com, 5/3).

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