Minnesota senate passes Vikings stadium, everyone to figure out just what they voted on in the morning

And it’s done: The Minnesota state senate just voted 38-28 to approve state funding of a $1 billion Vikings stadium bill, one day after the state house did the same. The two versions of the bill now go to conference committee to reconcile any differences, any then to Gov. Dayton for a certain signature.

Along the way, the senate voted for a whole passel of amendments, including an increase in the amount of money the Vikings owners would have to put in (but but only to $452 million, $70 80 milion less than the house voted for), a requirement that the NFL not black out any games, and a requirement that the state not overrule any requirement that the city of Minneapolis hold a referendum on sports funding — though money to redo the Target Center was then exempted from the no-referendum-out-clause provision, which pretty much makes it moot as that’s the only piece that is certain to trigger a referendum. The senate also briefly voted to ditch the entire e-pulltab funding scheme and replace it with the user fees that the Vikings owners hate so much, but then immediately revoted to find that a bunch of senators had mysteriously switched sides in the previous five minutes.

At this point, the only holdup is likely to be the increased funding required from the Vikings, and with the final figure post-conference committee likely to be between an extra $30 million and an extra $100 million, that’s likely a price that Zygi Wilf will be willing to pay. So congratulations, Minnesota, it looks like you just bought yourself a half billion dollars or so worth of football stadium. Or, as Sen. Carla Nelson called it per MPR’s indispensible liveblog of the proceedings, a building where you “have a tenant that pays for half the construction cost and then operates it only about 10 or 15 days a year.” Here’s hoping you get a half billion dollars worth of enjoyment out of the world’s largest rec room, because you can be sure the only significant money that comes in from it is going to be on 10 or 15 days a year — and take a wild guess which ones.

UPDATE: The senate also added several user taxes — 10% on suite sales, 10% on stadium parking, and 6.875% on sale of NBA memorabilia — as a backstop to the gambling money, which the Vikings also won’t like. That can be negotiated down or away in conference committee, though, so it only remains to be seen whether the team owners (or five senators) are willing to blow up the deal over the presence or absence of this provision. That doesn’t seem likely, though if this whole Vikings saga has made anything clear, it’s that “likely” doesn’t enter into the equation.


22 comments on “Minnesota senate passes Vikings stadium, everyone to figure out just what they voted on in the morning

  1. Not sure I understand how Minnesota thinks it is immune to the NFL blackout rules.

    Anyways, a very sad day for the taxpayers.

  2. When you are begging someone for $500 million to make you richer they can exempt you from any rules you see fit.

    The person with the money is and should be the one calling the shots.

    If the Vikings don’t like it they can build a stadium with their own money…oh that is right they don’t have any business plan other than fleecing taxpayers!

  3. Is the “no blackout” clause even enforceable? From my understanding it’s part of the TV contracts that are not up for renewal and as such it’s not the NFL that blacks out the game but the broadcasting network.

  4. The Minnesota House’s revision on a new football stadium would increase (by 105 million bucks) Zygi Wilf’s cost from $427 million to $532 million. The Senate’s revision increases the team’s cost by only 25 million dollars. Neil referred to this as a $70 million difference between the revisions. It totals 80 million bucks.

  5. Well, in theory they can practice the no blackout agreement without making an exception to the blackout rules – say maybe the state requires in the lease that the Vikings/Wilfs to purchase any remaining seats to avoid a blackout. A sort of “reverse” ticket guarantee.

  6. Gotta say I’m impressed by Vikings fans and the Minnesota legislature. The Metrodome stinks and they actually found a way to get it replaced. In the end, who cares who pays for which portion? The Twin Cities will be better off and so will the Vikings. You can argue all day over what share of the cost would be most fair, but the important thing is keeping a city forward thinking, modern and enjoyable for its residents and visitors.

  7. Ben-

    Who cares who pays for which portion?!?!

    Can you tell me where you work so I can make sure to conduct some business with you. You sound like a great person to negotiate with! :)

  8. The blackout rule is supposed to be for the benefit of selling tickets (“Y’all gotta fill at least X% of the seats or nobody gets to see it on TV!”). Killing the rule would be a benefit to the TV networks. They’d get the benefits of showing a few home games that they didn’t expect to broadcast when they bid on their contracts under the current rules.

    Under other circumstances it would make sense that a team could opt out of the blackout rule, but you share ticket revenue with the visiting team. So the whole league would have to agree with your exemption. Then the Jags want to opt out, then the Chargers, then…

    Considering the enormous proportion of income that the league gets from TV, the rule is kinda silly now anyways.

  9. @Joshua Northey, I know, right? Ben is probably 15 years old and never paid taxes in his life!

    Here’s to hoping this nonsense falls through. Wilf will not be happy with the terms. As to whether or not he’s willing to gamble on going through the process again, who knows? Hopefully, he just takes the Vikings to Laker land. They do have the same colors. That will be great for fashion obsessed Los Angelinos.

  10. @Keith, the blackout rules makes even more sense now as a profit maximization tool from the owner’s perspective. If a game is blacked out a team doesn’t lose it’s portion of the TV revenue from the league and it can be used as a tool to sell even more tickets than they would of sold otherwise.

  11. Where were the Taxpayers of Minnesota?

    Granted, I’m in Chicago and thus don’t have view to whether there was a sizable popular uprising in Minnesota against handing over taxpayer money to a private business interest…but it would seem that if the legislators felt that their constituency was at their door with torches & pitchforks, they might have second guessed allocating millions in taxpayer financing to a millionaire football owner.
    The subsidizing of a new Vikings stadium through the wallets of the public seemed to be a foregone conclusion from what I have read…so, will there be an outcry in 20 years when the Viking lament their now “obsolete” stadium that requires MORE taxpayer financing???
    I’m still hoping beyond hope that we in Chicago/Illinois aren’t on the hook for a “new” Wrigley Field renovation, but this being Chicago/Illinois, I know that the public WILL be on the hook…it’s just a question of how much they are going to hurt our wallets/pocketbooks.

  12. Dan M-

    A) Most people don’t pay any attention.
    B) The people who are going to be more energized and turn out at the legislature are die hard fans.
    C) The people most effected by the increases taxes this represents are the busy working taxpayers who don’t have time to get involved.
    D) The legislators care a lot more about what their party bosses, and campaign donors say to them then what the voters think. The voters will mostly forget this unless the opponent in the next election tries to beat them up about it. Even then if the opponent is the wrong party they won’t win anyway because so many of he seats are safe for one party or the other.

    If it didn’t happen this year it would happen next year…our only hope of avoiding the gouging of the taxpayers was the team leaving because the legislature is completely incapable of governing effective (and don’t even get me started on that empty suit born with a platinum spoon in his mouth of a governor). He wouldn’t know what a regular taxpayer was if he ran over one with his golf cart.

  13. @jmauro – In the NFL (thanks to great demand and relatively little supply compared to other sports) “profit maximization” is usually going to happen at the point where you price your seats at the maximum price where you sell all of them. If your team is in danger of being blacked out, you’re not doing it right. It’s hard to believe there are a significant number of potential ticket buyers who think “Hmm, I guess I better buy a ticket so my neighbors can watch the game on TV.” People either go – or don’t go – based on how much they value the experience and the cost of that experience.

  14. Chris, thanks for the correction on $80m vs $70m. The higher math centers of my brain weren’t fully awake at 1 am when I wrote that.

  15. Now some team with a twenty year old half billion dollar stadium can point to the Vikings and say “see, we can’t keep pace, we need you tax payers to build us a billion dollar stadium.”.

  16. Tisk Tisk. We told you Minnesota Viking fans are superior to all.

    We told you this bill would pass.

    Master Zygi is a genius. Vikings will be in the Super Bowl in 2 years.

    Bow down to the Minnesota Vikings!

  17. Gee, if the Vikings get to the Super Bowl, then of course it will have been a great investment, right? Because it’s certainly an appropriate purpose for government to subsidize pro sports. And having a football team win games, maybe, is going to help everybody without a job, a hope, or health care feel just dandy. Oh, that’s right, public benefits are now supposed to come from the private seotor and private benefits are to be supplied by the public. Professional sports has lost any meaningful legitimacy, as has the legislature through these actions. So that might explain the public’s complacency around this issue.

  18. Gee, if the Vikings get to the Super Bowl, then of course it will have been a great investment, right? Because it’s certainly an appropriate purpose for government to subsidize pro sports. And having a football team win games, maybe, is going to help everybody without a job, a hope, or health care feel just dandy. Oh, that’s right, public benefits are now supposed to come from the private seotor and private benefits are to be supplied by the public. Professional sports has lost any meaningful legitimacy, as has the legislature through these actions. So that might explain the public’s complacency around this issue.

  19. Getting an Super Bowl will so totally put Minneapolis on the map! No longer will we be a B-class city, we’ll have arrived into the pantheon of The World’s Greatest A-Class Cities Of Ever!! /stupid politicians and Viqueens fans

  20. Getting an Super Bowl will so totally put Minneapolis on the map! No longer will we be a B-class city, we’ll have arrived into the pantheon of The World’s Greatest A-Class Cities Of Ever!! /stupid politicians and Viqueens fans

  21. Minnesota and the vikings have the greatest fans in sports. Team has been sold out for 75 years.

    Minneapolis is considered the San Francisco of the Midwest.

    Master Zygi will provide us with a Super Bowl. Viking fans our on their knees to him.

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