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Volume 24 No. 154


A new Vikings stadium, including a roof, "would be built with up to $300 million in state money raised from an assortment of new fees and taxes, under a plan that will be introduced at the Legislature next week," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The new details "emerged late Thursday, when two leading Republican legislators sent a letter to their colleagues broadly outlining the public subsidy package for the project and told them that 'the time has come to move forward on a bill.'" The letter, along with a "research paper describing the plan's highlights, says the state's share of the project -- at least $30 million a year -- would come from a variety of fees, including a sports memorabilia tax, stadium naming rights, a lottery game and a pro football player income tax surcharge." Local governments "could submit bids to host the new stadium and would be permitted to levy a half-cent sales tax to cover their costs in providing a stadium site." In addition, Hennepin County "would be permitted to use excess public subsidies from Target Field," and Minneapolis "would have the option of diverting excess public subsidies from the city's convention center." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that the team is "concerned about financing provisions that include the creation of a NFL player income-tax surcharge and a sales tax on luxury boxes, as well as a proposal to turn over stadium naming-rights revenues to the state -- as opposed to the team." And Taxpayers League of Minnesota President and former House Taxes Committee Chair Phil Krinkie said that "memorabilia taxes and other so-called 'user fees' would generate relatively little money." He added a Vikings lottery game "generates next to nothing." Katharine Tinucci, spokesperson for Gov. Mark Dayton, reiterated that Dayton's "interest in building what he has called a 'people's stadium,' and not using any general fund dollars" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/1). The AP's Patrick Condon noted the plan being introduced next week "would also create a 'Minnesota Stadium Authority' that would select the site and run the new stadium" (AP, 3/31). 

Fenway Sports Group is actively shopping corporate naming rights for a potential new stadium for Liverpool FC, the EPL club it purchased last year. FSG since that acquisition has been deliberating whether to renovate Anfield, Liverpool's 127-year-old home stadium, in a similar manner to what it did with Fenway Park, or construct an entirely new facility. FSG is not marketing naming rights to Anfield. But the effort is designed to establish a market for naming rights at a new stadium, with that number in turn worked into financing considerations. "We're taking a hard look at this, and the reality is that we just don't have a good feel yet for what the naming rights could be worth, and we need to know as we go through this [build-or-renovate] process," said Sam Kennedy, President of FSG's Fenway Sports Management. The agency is aiding Liverpool as the club's recently promoted managing director, Ian Ayre, leads the talks. Existing key Liverpool sponsors, such as jersey partner Standard Chartered and brewer Carlsberg, are being approached first. Kennedy declined to outline potential valuations for the naming rights. But that Standard Chartered jersey deal, pegged at US$32.1M per year, could be instructive. Arsenal FC has a 15-year, US$160.5M deal with Emirates for its building, but that also includes an eight-year shirt component. An ultimate decision on Liverpool's facility course of action is at least several months away.

L.A. City Council member Jan Perry Thursday said that the city "should explore the possibility of sharing in developer profits" from AEG's proposed downtown stadium, "in addition to demanding detailed guarantees that the city budget won't be stressed by the deal," according to Rich Connell of the L.A. TIMES. Perry, the newly named Chair of a special committee charged with examining the stadium project, said the proposal is "an opportunity for us." Referring to City Hall's $350M projected budget shortfall, she added, "This is a way to help pull us out of this deficit status." Connell notes Perry spoke during and after a panel discussion on L.A.'s competing NFL stadium plans -- AEG's and one from Majestic Realty -- and her comments "could signal an uptick in City Hall support for squeezing as much new revenue as possible from stadium negotiations still in the early stages." Perry stressed that the "first priority in talks with AEG" is to "ensure the development does not become a drain on current or future general government budgets." She added that the "ongoing budget crisis also means 'we're in a strong position' to bargain for more revenue." Thursday's program "marked the first time representatives of AEG and a competing stadium plan in the City of Industry had appeared together to tout their projects." Each argued that their respective location "offered access advantages for fans and that their proposals would provide greater financial payoffs to local communities" (L.A. TIMES, 4/1).

MEETING OF THE MINDS: The AP's Jacob Adelman noted the "tone was mostly cordial" at the meeting, and AEG and Majestic reps "agreed on one thing Thursday: Pro football can be a major economic driver for the region." Majestic Realty VP John Semcken said that the stadium his firm wants to build in City of Industry "would draw large numbers of fans to Los Angeles without exposing it to the risk of having the venue built within its borders." AEG COO Dan Beckerman countered that his company's proposal for downtown "would involve much-needed improvements to the adjacent convention center." Beckerman argued that a "downtown stadium would have better public transit service along with more nearby bars and restaurants for fans." Semcken responded that Majestic's project "has more parking and space for tailgating parties" (AP, 3/31). National Resources Defense Council attorney David Pettit, who opened his commentary at Thursday's meeting "by suggesting a downtown stadium would be more environmentally friendly than a stadium in Industry, backed off when asked about traffic congestion, parking and the emissions of idling cars." He said, "It's hard to say because AEG's proposal hasn't really come out yet, so I don't think it's fair to make comparisons" (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 4/1).