Vikings' Stadium Plan Rejected By Minnesota Legislative Panel
The proposed public subsidy package for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis was "decisively rejected by a House panel late Monday night, leaving the team and stadium supporters visibly stunned," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The Minnesota legislature is scheduled "to adjourn in two weeks," and the nearly $1B stadium plan was "left needing an extraordinary injection of support to stay alive at the Capitol this spring." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, "It's a mistake to think the Vikings and the [NFL] will continue with the status quo." Kaszuba notes Bagley "stopped just short of saying that the vote could lead the team to leave Minnesota." For the stadium plan "to get new life, it likely would need to be resurrected by a Senate panel that considered the proposal last month but did not take action because there weren't enough votes to approve the project" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/17). Minnesota Rep. Morrie Lanning, who sponsored the bill, called the vote "very disappointing" and said that for the bill to have any chance now to pass this session, "Somebody's going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat." Bagley added that the team "will continue to push the proposal in the remaining two weeks of the session" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/17). In Minneapolis, Kevin Duchschere noted Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat is "telling legislative leaders that the county board opposes using excess revenues from the county's ballpark tax to backstop state funding for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis." Most of the revenue from the sales tax "goes to pay down the debt on Target Field." An additional $4M per year is "used to make grants for youth sports programs and to extend library hours; any additional revenue goes to the ballpark" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 4/16).
ARE YOU THREATENING ME? ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert writes, "It's time for the Minnesota Vikings to recognize that their admirable but toothless stadium strategy has failed." It is time to "end the exclusivity they have given the state of Minnesota on this issue." There is "no more reason to tiptoe around skittish state leaders who root for the Vikings but won't commit public money to maintain their long-term presence." Bagley and Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf have "tried to work within the system," but it is "now time for Wilf to acknowledge in a public way that Minnesota state leaders might not be willing to support any part of the financing" of the $975M stadium. Seifert: "I truly don't think the Vikings, the Wilf family or the NFL want to move the franchise. But state leaders felt little urgency after the Vikings allowed the NFL's Feb. 15 deadline for relocation applications to pass." Seifert adds the team has "avoided the threat of relocation ... but I'll be fascinated to see if the Vikings find a way to avoid it now" (ESPN.com, 4/17). ESPN’s John Clayton said, “As much as the Wilf’s want to stay in the state of Minnesota -- that’s their main goal -- they’re running out of options. They’re not making a lot of money in the stadium … and if they keep on getting no’s, then at some point here reasonably soon -- maybe not this year, but in the next couple of years -- they’re going to say yes to L.A.” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 4/17).