Tensions divide stadium partners


Vikings and MSFA at odds


Is there a future for reconciliation between two partners who thought they had the world at their fingertips just a year ago, when in August of 2012 it was like a love fest, as the Vikings (Wilfs) and the state of Minnesota (Minnesota Sports Facility Authority) both declared their love, trust, and respect for each other? What difference a year can make.

The New Jersey court ruling against the Wilfs led Minnesota (State, Sports commission, City) to question the integrity of the Vikes owners, the Wilfs, by ordering a forensic audit and an analysis of the Vikings’ owners ability to pay their portion of the $975 million so-called “Peoples” stadium.

People tend to forget that just a year ago, as required by the legislation of 2012, the Vikings delivered $50 million to the Sports Facility Authority, when the MSFA was extremely cash flush ($50 million from the Vikings, $24 million transferred from the now defunct ballpark authority).

Everyone expected that by now the State of Minnesota would be reaping the millions of dollars in revenue expected to be coming in from electronic pull tabs (and later electronic bingo), isn’t happening. And where will Minneapolis get its $150 billion obligation?

What else in their revenue forecasts won’t happen?

Do you see the obvious: only the Vikings have put major money in the big account. Yet the law firm of Dorsey and Whitney, after the sports authority meeting of Friday a week ago, called the Vikings’ Les Bagley a liar.

On Thursday the 22nd of August, Les Bagley was told to inform the sports facility authority that the Vikings were breaking off negotiations until after the audit. And again, two weeks after ringing their hands about the New Jersey law suit officials, pretended they cannot understand why negotiations have broken off. This is a bona fide crisis.

The NFL has already said “no” to more money. The governor errored strategically by suggesting that the Vikings’ Wilfs were poor business managers.

Minnesota has not treated the Wilfs well:

• 1995: NFL Commissioner: if no new stadium, team moves.

• 1996 owners: if no new stadium, team moves.

• 1997: In his book, No Room for Crybabies, Dennis Green outlines how the team must sell to a local buyer to prevent being sold to an outsider who might move it.

• 1997: May 8, 1997: “Vikings are Going, Going, Gone!” Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

• 1998: October, Henry Savakoul, Chairman of the Sports Facility Commission: the state is only prepared to support three pro sports: baseball, basketball and hockey.

• 2000: Star Tribune reporter Jay Weiner’s book, “Stadium Games,” confirms Savakoul: “Minnesota can’t truly afford four major-league teams,” as the business community and legislators identify the Vikings as the team to move.

• 2001: Dennis Green proposed a stadium plan approved by Red McCombs that was killed without either being told in advance.

• 2004: Vikings “Information Brochure” for buyers prepared by JP Morgan: “Anoka County and City of Blaine are developing…a mixed-use development anchored by a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.”

• 2011 deal for mixed-use development proposed by Ramsay County in Arden Hills.

• 2012: NFL Commissioner: if no new stadium, team free to leave.

How will the audit change minds? Will they finally sign an agreement to pay and built, or not?

This is ugly. What will prevent the Vikings from moving to California? Will the covered wagons be loaded up and driven to the land of 10,000 lakes of the basketball Lakers? Many of us don’t want that. We expect local authorities to provide a clear, concise, honest response? Will they do so?

Stay tuned.


For Ron’s hosted show’s broadcast times, solution papers, archives, and how to order his books, go to www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.