Dayton notices that PSLs cost money, threatens to blow up Vikings stadium deal

Until word broke of the Miami Marlinsepic sale, the big stadium news from yesterday was out of Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton apparently abruptly noticed that hey, whoa, the Vikings owners were planning to pay for their fraction of stadium costs by selling personal seat licenses, and those things cost fans money:

In a sternly worded letter to the team owners, the governor objected to a proposal to charge seat-licensing fees in exchange for premier seating choices, a move that could mean big-spenders boot longtime season-ticket holders to less desirable seats.

Fans of average means supported the stadium, “not just rich Minnesotans, because they believed the Vikings are also their team,” Dayton wrote. “If a new stadium were to betray that trust, it would be better that it not be built.”…

“I strongly oppose shifting any part of the team’s responsibility for those costs onto Minnesota Vikings fans,” Dayton wrote in his letter to Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. “This private contribution is your responsibility. Not theirs. I said this new stadium would be a ‘People’s Stadium,’ not a ‘Rich People’s Stadium.’ I meant it then, and I mean it now.”

(Dayton’s full letter is here.)

Though the stadium was signed off on by the legislature back in the spring, Dayton’s threat to blow up the PSL portion actually has some teeth: Thanks to a clause in the lease designed to hide Vikings revenues from taxation, the seat licenses are actually going to be sold by the state-controlled Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, three of whose five members are appointed by Dayton, before the money is handed over to the team. Dayton can now simply order the authority not to market any PSLs — and he’s said if they won’t listen, he’ll ask the legislature to repeal the authority’s authority to sell the licenses.

This is potentialy a huge, huge deal: Though Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is getting $1.1 billion in public subsidies for his $1 billion stadium, much of that is in future property-tax breaks, and he still needs to come up with $477 million in cash to pay for his share of stadium construction, and was no doubt counting on PSLs — which, unlike other team revenues, don’t have to be shared with the league — to pay for a large chunk of that.

So far, we just have a staring contest, and it’s always possible that once the public furor over PSLs has died down and Dayton has scored his political points, he and Wilf will sit down and find a way to paper over their differences. (Though Dayton’s going to look awful silly if he does so after all that talk about “betraying trust.”) In the meantime, expect somebody to start predicting that the Vikings will just walk away from their $1.1 billion subsidy and move to Los Angeles — oh, look, there’s someone now.


10 comments on “Dayton notices that PSLs cost money, threatens to blow up Vikings stadium deal

  1. If it’s a staring match, all Zygi needs to do is to wait for Dayton’s trick eye to start wandering.

  2. That was an unbelievable trade.

    MLB needs to break out its “best interests of baseball”-clause on the Marlins, just like they did with Charlie O’s Athletics teams. The fact that the Marlins got all that public funding so they could invest more in players makes this 10 times as disgusting.

    Looks like the Blue Jays will be pretty good next year.

  3. It would be nice for the taxpayers if the Vikings lost their stadium deal. If they move to LA, I hope they move out of the NFC North as well but that might not happen given the history.

  4. Ok, I read Dayton’s letter once and I find it a bit disingenuous to act so aggrieved– presumably on behalf of those fans who believe the team is also “theirs” (newsflash to Dayton: the team is a private entertainment business which belongs to a rapacious cartel. The owners [who I believe have the right to do what they please with their team] care about fans only to the extent they can extract from them what they can. There is also no Santa Claus.).

    I don’t know what Dayton expects– NFL owners are acutely aware of the stadium deals negotiated by their fellow cartel members–the goal is always to better what another owner arrived at–I’m sure the Wilfs know well that BSLs in Santa Clara go towards construction and luxury box sales go to the team (the Yorks are putting virtually none of their personal fortune into the stadium’s construction so why would the Wilf family be expected to do more?).

  5. Duuuh…
    Tax”payers” (and may who don’t) who elect clueless pol’s who assume that sports franchise owners of any stripe will use their own $$$’s when they can pass the responsibility to someone else get the kind of “representation” they deserve.
    What comes to mind is a line from Casablanca by Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    In the end Vikes will get what they want and Dayton will get “considerations” to perpetuate himself.

  6. Dayton probably is posturing. He’s probably saying that to earn brownie points with voters. He’ll probably fold like a ten dollar bill the next time he meets with Wilf and the Ginger Hammer.

    Despite all that, it is actually nice to hear someone, anyone, say that in public.

  7. Most likely, Justin.

    Politicians love to try and play both ends… and those who vote for them are generally stupid enough to believe both the mutually contradictory arguments they put forth.

    SCJ: Rapacious Cartel… I like it. Could we add another negative sounding adjective perhaps???

  8. @John Bladen: I’d add ‘vicious’ or ‘bullying’ to ‘Rapacious Cartel’.
    Here in SC, the 49ers just run to Sacramento to get special interest legislation (and pay for lobbyists) or sue whenever they can’t get their way. If you want a list, I’ll provide one. It’s all documented on the Santa Clara Plays Fair website.

  9. It’s easy to refute his argument that it will push out existing season ticketholders from their seats of they don’t want to shell out the bucks. “So what?”
    Like you’re going to expect the owners to allow the PSL’s to be sold for existing seats at a discount? That’s obviously unworkable. So this is most likely a smokescreen, negotiating or (re-)election ploy.
    Much like other stadiums, it’ll go over at the last minute and the public won’t be able to react. Remember what the Colts owners did at Indy? I think it’ll go much the same and it’ll get approved just before the politicians go on vacation.