Okay, I’ve seen a lot of pandering to voters/sports fans by politicians, but I think Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton may have taken not only the cake, but the entire bakery:
Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf should have to pay a large portion of the team’s share of a new football stadium from their own pockets instead of using money made from fees charged to season ticket holders, Gov. Mark Dayton wrote Monday in a letter to the government authority supervising its construction.
Sounds great, right? Sure, it’s a little late, considering that Dayton was the main guy pushing for the Vikings stadium deal in the first place, but better late than never. So how does Dayton propose that the Wilfs dip into their own pockets instead of soaking fans?
As part of the stadium funding plan that lawmakers passed in 2012, the Vikings are allowed to sell personal seat licenses, which give the holder the right to buy tickets for specified seats in a stadium for any event, including NFL games. Personal seat licenses are common throughout the NFL and have been used as a way for teams to pay for new stadiums.
But in a letter to authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen, Dayton expressed concern over a recent Minnesota Public Radio News report that concluded the Wilfs would likely be able to cover most of the $477 million without spending their own money. Instead, they could use the seat licenses, naming rights to the stadium and a roughly $200 million NFL contribution.
Dayton’s line in the sand, it turns out, isn’t actually over whether the Vikings owners would use PSL money or their own money — once the Wilfs sell PSLs, that is their money — but how much the team could charge for PSLs, something the governor has freaked out about before. The issue now appears to be how much the Wilfs would be allowed to charge for PSLs, since the stadium legislation gives the state stadium authority (which would actually be selling the PSLs, though the team gets all the proceeds) the right to set PSL prices. So Dayton wants lower PSL prices, meaning less money for the Wilfs, meaning more money they’d have to take from other revenue streams.
The trouble here is that PSLs are really just a way for teams to raise capital from their fans instead of a bank — think of them as like Kickstarter for billionaire sports owners. And like Kickstarter, fans expect not to be hit up for high prices again to buy the actual product when it’s available. Or to put it more simply: There’s nothing to stop the Wilfs from just borrowing the money the old-fashioned way, then raising ticket prices to extract the same money from those suddenly cheap-PSL-priced Vikings fans — if fans are willing to pay that much for PSLs plus tickets, the market equation doesn’t change much if the PSL price goes down and the ticket price goes up.
What this does do, though, is make Dayton look like a hero for standing up for Vikings fans who are understandably not happy about having to pay a huge fee before they can even get the right to buy tickets. But if anyone thinks this will significantly change how much the WIlfs have to sacrifice from their profits to pay for their stadium, you have another think coming.