SBD/August 25, 2014/Facilities

SMG To Operate New Vikings Stadium After Beating Out AEG, Global Spectrum

SMG execs think the facility can become a major player for summer concerts
SMG will operate the Vikings' new stadium after beating AEG and Global Spectrum in an intense competition for the contract, said team Exec VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley. As part of a 10-year deal with a five-year option, SMG will pay a $6.75M annual guarantee to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the Vikings’ landlord. SMG’s extensive experience running four NFL stadiums in Chicago, Houston, Jacksonville and New Orleans was the deciding factor, Bagley said, as well as the nine Super Bowls it has been involved in over the years at its buildings. Minnesota will play host to the '18 Super Bowl one year after the '17 event at NRG Stadium, an SMG account. SMG Exec VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton said his company also leveraged its experience running Final Fours in New Orleans and Houston and neutral-site college football games in Chicago to help win the Vikings’ contract. In Minneapolis, team and city officials are bidding for the Final Four in years '17 through '20. In addition, SMG officials feel the Vikings’ facility can become a major player for summer concerts. The firm has created multi-day concerts such as the 20-year-old Essence Music Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Florida Country Superfest at EverBank Field, a first-time event held this past June. Thornton believes the Twin Cities can support a similar concert franchise in a market without a large outdoor amphitheater. Outside, next to the stadium in downtown Minneapolis, a proposed eight-acre city park could be positioned for pregame hospitality similar to Champions Square in New Orleans, developed by SMG in conjunction with the Saints and Centerplate, the Superdome’s concessionaire. NRG Park in Houston has similar tailgating spaces, Thornton said. "This (Vikings) building is a cutting-edge design with a lot of technology," Thornton said. "It’s the prototype for the stadium of the future" (Don Muret, Staff Writer).

THE NEW DEAL: The Vikings are kicking in an additional $49M in private money to meet overruns for the stadium project, which has total costs now officially over $1B. The MSFA on Friday also approved an agreement with the Vikings to include a potential MLS team as a tenant. The Vikings have committed to paying $340,000 in yearly rent plus game day expenses in return for collecting all revenues connected to the soccer team. Minnesota has yet to be awarded an MLS franchise (Muret). In Minneapolis, Rochelle Olson noted the Vikings' additional $49M includes a $20M cash infusion that "covers a funding gap in construction" of the $1B stadium project. The MSFA approved the budget changes "after lavishly praising the Vikings for upping their portion of the tab." The additional money brings "the project’s total budget" to $1.023B and the team’s share to $526M. After SMG pays the MSFA its guaranteed $6.75M, the company "takes the next $500,000." The next $1M "is evenly split." MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said that above that, the authority receives 75% of the revenue to 25% for SMG (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/24).

JOBS REPORT: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said of the stadium investment, "The Vikings were either going to get a new stadium here or they were going to get a new stadium in Los Angeles. We would then be left with an empty Metrodome, no real big tenant, and dilapidated and there’s never been any economic development going on around it. That’s versus what we have now, which is their investment is $525 million now and over $800 million of private investments and construction projects right near that are happening. ... The economic benefit is going to be enormous. I said first and foremost -- and I’m a Vikings fan, went to their first game in 1961 -- but first and foremost, it’s a jobs project" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/25).
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Facilities, Minnesota Vikings, NFL

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