SBD/May 10, 2012/Facilities

Minnesota House Approves Vikings Stadium Plan, With Team Contribution At $477M

The Vikings agreed to contribute $50M more than planned to building the $1B stadium
The Vikings have agreed to contribute $477M -- $50M more than they had planned -- to “get a new stadium under a deal that was given final House approval” early this morning, according to a front-page piece by Kaszuba & Stassen-Berger of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The results of a “furious, final stadium negotiating session were released after hours of closed-door meetings” yesterday. The Vikings’ share of the $1B stadium was “more than the $427 million the team had agreed to earlier this spring, but less than the $532 million the House voted in favor of two nights ago.” The state Senate, which earlier passed different versions of the stadium plan, is “expected to take a final stadium vote” later today. Meanwhile, the House “voted 71 to 60 for the revised financing plan after a debate that finished at 3:30 in the morning.” The Vikings “embraced the revised deal and on behalf of owner Zygi Wilf expressed gratitude for the political effort that produced the stadium plan.” State Rep. Mary Liz Holberg said that the final proposal “required state officials to keep the team’s financial data private." A plan created by the House-Senate conference committee would “impose a series of so-called blink-on taxes should revenues from electronic bingo and pull tabs fall short of covering the state share of the stadium bill.” Backup revenue sources include a 10% admissions tax on "stadium luxury seats and a sports-themed lottery game predicted to produce" at least $2.1M per year (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10). 

READ THE FINE PRINT: In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes the latest version of the bill “drops the state’s contribution” from $398M to $348M, while Minneapolis’ contribution “remains unchanged” at $150M. Other key issues that were resolved include the Vikings getting to “retain stadium naming rights," and St. Paul getting $2.7M annually to "offset investment in Minneapolis," which would likely help build a new ballpark for the independent minor league St. Paul Saints. Additionally, construction cost overruns will be "the responsibility of the builder; operating cost overruns are responsibility of public stadium authority," and Minneapolis "retains charter exemption language designed to allow it to spend money to renovate Target Center” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/10). Rep. Morrie Lanning, who sponsored the bill, said, “The Vikings will be committed to staying in Minnesota for at least 30 years. I believe that will be longer.” REUTERS' David Bailey notes that the planned 65,000-seat stadium “would have 150 corporate suites and 7,500 club seats.” The Vikings also would have the “sole right” for five years to bring a MLS franchise to the stadium (REUTERS, 5/10).

MUST-SEE TV: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote, “When word emerged Tuesday that the Minnesota Senate had amended the stadium bill to prevent any Vikings games played at the proposed facility from being blacked out, it seemed ludicrous to think that such a stipulation would fly, given the NFL’s staunch insistence on adhering to its decades-old blackout policy.” But the NFL “doesn’t need to carve an exception to blackout policy.” Instead, the team “must commit to purchasing -- at 34 cents on the dollar -- any unsold non-premium tickets.” If the stadium will “consistently be sold out for Vikings games, such a commitment will cost the team nothing.” The NFL “may not prefer that type of precedent, since it would then be used when public money is being finagled for other new stadiums,” but it “makes plenty of sense” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 5/9).
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