SBD/March 27, 2012/Facilities

Majority Of Minneapolis City Council Backs Mayor's Plan To Fund New Vikings Stadium

Plan has city would contributing $150M toward building stadium, plus $189M to help operate it
A majority of the Minneapolis City Council now backs Mayor R.T. Rybak's plan to "fund a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, setting up a last-ditch effort by Minn. Gov. Mark Dayton to persuade reluctant Republican legislators to support the project," according to Roper & Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Yesterday's "surprise announcement" that seven council members had "signed letters of support seemed unlikely just a week ago," when seven members publicly opposed the plan. However, the deal is "far from done." Legislators were "still scrambling" yesterday to obtain an agreement "over the use of charitable gambling funds to pay for the state portion of the stadium." It is also "uncertain whether there are enough votes at the Legislature to pass the plan." Under Rybak's plan, Minneapolis would contribute $150M "toward building the stadium, plus an additional" $189M to help operate it. The money would come from "excess city sales taxes that become available when debt is paid off for the Minneapolis Convention Center." Even as Rybak, Dayton and other stadium supporters "cheered the breakthrough, Republicans who hold a majority in the House and Senate were still lukewarm to the stadium project as the Legislature heads into its final weeks" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/27). In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes the letters "aren't identical, and they don't guarantee support will continue" if the $975M stadium deal is amended in the Legislature, but they "do appear to address one of the remaining roadblocks to legislative action on the stadium bill." Vikings President Mark Wilf said the letters were "a critical component for us to resolve this issue in 2012" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/27).

NORTH STARS: In Minneapolis, Thomas Lee noted naming rights to a new Vikings stadium "arguably represent the most grandiose marketing opportunity in Minnesota." With 20 Fortune 500 firms, Minnesota "certainly doesn't lack companies with financial firepower." Lee wrote right now, the "smart money seems to be on" Target, which also has naming rights to the Twins' and T'Wolves venues. However, a lone company with deals for "all three major sports facilities in one city would be unprecedented." For this reason, Target "may decide to pass, fearing overexposure of its brand and wallet." Best Buy Senior Dir of PR Susan Busch said that the company has "no interest in naming the stadium." U.S. Bancorp "could be a top candidate," as the company's Chair, President & CEO Richard Davis has been "working hard to keep the Vikings in Minnesota." Mall of America VP/PR Dan Jasper, whose company currently has naming rights to the field at the Metrodome, wrote in an e-mail, "I can tell you that our partnership with the Minnesota Vikings has been very good, and we have found value in being the field naming rights sponsor for Mall of America Field. As the stadium issue moves forward we can connect again" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/25).
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Franchises, Minnesota Vikings

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