Decided I’d take a look at the proposals for the Viking Stadium that’s in the works (knowing I’ll be getting some corrections and such from ‘inside sources’).
The Vikings have been sharing the Metrodome for the last few seasons with the Minnesota Twins. Both teams have been looking for an upgrade on their facilities, creating a strain on governing body of Minnesota. The deal that the Vikings have currently is one of the poorer ones in the NFL. The stadium owners have been decent enough to waive the yearly ‘rent’ but there are little to no incentives for the team to remain there. According to Wikipedia (so take the numbers with a grain of salt):
The Vikings pay the MSFC 9.5 percent of its ticket sales; the commission “reserves all rights to sell or lease advertising in any part of the Stadium” and the team cannot use the scoreboard for any ads and does not control naming rights for the building; the commission controls the limited parking and its revenue; and the commission pays the team 10 percent of all concession sales, which in 2004 and 2005, amounted to just over half a million for the team each year while the MSFC takes roughly 35 percent of concessions sold during Vikings games. The Vikings were 30th out of 32 NFL teams in local revenues in 2005.
Now there was a limited proposal to do a football stadium for the University of Minnesota and the Vikings but the project was scrapped. The Gophers got a new field (which isn’t winter proof apparently), and the Vikings remain in the metrodome. To make matters worse, the Twins received a very nice ballpark.
Let’s be clear here. The Vikings want a new stadium and Minnesota wants to keep them there, but as with most things in life, money gets in the way. There are several proposals on the floor for various locations, including the site of the current Metrodome. None of the sites seem to be greater or lesser, aside from the current location which features public transportation already.
The hang up between them is how much money the surrounding county is willing to provide towards construction, the taxes that will be levied on the people of Minnesota in order to pay for the stadium over time, as well as various other development issues in terms of new transportation, tailgating and all the other staples of the football world.
Most recently, a bill finally reached debate in the Minnesota government and landed with very poor reception. The Star Tribune broke down the details in an article. Needless to say the responses are pretty dour, and it’s hard to come down on one side or the other. For the government, it’s not a particularly good time for them to be funding a stadium with the budget and recession, however, they’ve not addressed the ailing facilities for both Twins and Vikings for a while, leaving them stuck to build both in a quick line.
On the Vikings perspective, they’ve tolerated a very poor stadium in the Metrodome for several years, paid their dues and have not begun using L.A. as a lever to get what they want from the legislative body. Their proposals do seek a large chunk of public funding, reportedly they would bay $1 to ever $2 from the public. Compare this to Lucas Oil Stadium which cost approximately $720 million, only $100 million of which was provided by the Colts. The Vikings appear to be looking for a more lucrative venue, but even still they’ve got a decent start. Certainly the economics between the two cities is different, but the comparison should be valid. Another example, however, is the New Meadowlands Stadium, which is joint owned and paid for by both teams. The New Meadowlands was the most expensive stadium built at $1.6 billion.
So long as both parties remain calm about the process, and so long as the Vikings are willing to remain in the Metrodome while they work on a deal, I have little doubt that a new stadium will be built. In this day and age, an NFL franchise is far too valuable a commodity for a city to throw away, particularly with the desires around the country to bring in one. The worry becomes what happens after this season, when the lease expires. Likewise, if the negotiations stall, or become less civil, there’s very little stopping New Jersey based owner Ziggy Wilf from shopping his team to the highest bidder. With all the stadiums in discussion in L.A. it’s obvious there will be one for them to go to should the worst come to pass.