New Orleans doesn’t win Super Bowl bid, Drew Brees says new stadium needed, Facebook freaks out

Minneapolis was awarded the 2018 Super Bowl on Tuesday, and I thought about posting, but you know, somebody is always awarded the Super Bowl, and Minneapolis will have a new stadium with a roof, so sure, why not? The only bit of news that seemed particularly relevant to this site was this note about the runner-up in the bidding, New Orleans:

New Orleans had been 10-for-10 when it bid on the Super Bowl. The city will be celebrating its 300th birthday in 2018. But, it plays in an old stadium, the Superdome. Feel free to wonder when the next pitch for public funds for a new stadium in New Orleans will come.

If you had your money on “two days from now, by Saints quarterback Drew Brees,” you’re a winner!

At a charity softball event Drew Brees inserted himself in a debate about whether the city of New Orleans “needs” a new sports stadium.  His comments came a few days after New Orleans lost a bid for the 2018 Super Bowl.  Minneapolis, with its emphasis on having a new football stadium, won the bid.

“Listen, the league wants to encourage new stadiums to be built.  This motivates and incentivizes cities, especially the small market teams, to pass legislation and approve bills that end up funding those types of stadiums,” said Brees.

WWL-TV then followed up this vague but incendiary comment by an NFL player who probably was just trying to answer a question that had been put to him with a bunch of quotes from Facebook comments, because modern journalism, people. (For the record, both Debbie Hall Perrone and Judy Clasen Sinnott think that New Orleans doesn’t need a new stadium.)

NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, meanwhile, who thinks that everybody needs a new stadium, says the selection of Minneapolis tells cities, “If you’ll be going up against a city with a new stadium built in part by taxpayer dollars, don’t bother.” Which could lead to future Super Bowl bids that “suddenly won’t be as good as they otherwise would be,” because cities without new stadiums won’t bother. Which is a nice bookend to Florio’s February column that holding cold-weather Super Bowls in cities with new stadiums will encourage more cities to build new stadiums, then bid. Just so long as somebody is being arm-twisted into something that can generate clicks, both the NFL and the sports media are happy, so it’s all good.

Minnesota paying Vikings owner to store his own construction dirt

I’ve seen a lot of oddball hidden stadium subsidies, but this is a new one: The state of Minnesota is paying Vikings owner Zygi Wilf $90,000 to store the dirt from construction of his new stadium. Apparently the demolition of the Metrodome generated a big-ass pile of dirt, and rather than truck it offsite, the state decided to store it on neighboring parking lots owned by Wilf, in exchange paying his property taxes on the site for the duration of the dirt storage.

This isn’t a lot of money, but it still rankled some elected officials like state senator John Marty, who said, “In the big picture of things, yeah, it’s small potatoes. But, I mean, do we have to give [Wilf] everything the guy ever wants?” To be fair, though, who would pay for dirt storage is probably something that wasn’t addressed in the original stadium deal, and when the state approached Wilf to ask if he’d store his own damn dirt for his own damn stadium for free, he demanded some kind of payment for—

[Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Michele] Kelm-Helgen acknowledged that, instead of asking whether the Wilfs would store the dirt for free, the stadium authority offered the tax deal.

*Sigh*.
 

New Vikings stadium to be twice size of Metrodome, the better to sell you things

If you know me, you know that I love this stuff, so without further ado I give you the Minnesota Vikings‘ overlay comparison of the Metrodome and their new $1 billion stadium:

Yup, that sure is big. And even if the peak of the roof is just roof, those upper-deck seats at the new place are likely to be awful.

The Vikings also report that the total floor space inside the new stadium will be nearly doubled, from 900,000 square feet to 1.75 million square feet. And there you have the real reason for new stadiums: more space to sell you crap. Not that the crap they’ll be selling you would likely be worth enough to repay the billion-dollar construction tab, but fortunately for Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, he doesn’t have to worry about that.

Vikings reveal how much fans will have to pay for right to buy tickets at taxpayer-funded stadium

The Minnesota Vikings announced their personal seat license prices on Friday; if you’re a VIkings fan you probably already know all about what seats cost how much, and if you’re not a Vikings fan you hopefully won’t care. So the broad summary: Unless fans want to sit in the 12,000 seats in the last rows of the nosebleeds, they’re going to need to plunk down between $500 and $9,500 per seat just for the right to buy tickets, which will then run between $50 and $400 a pop. That’s pretty much what the team hinted at back in October, and about middle-of-the-pack for NFL teams that require PSLs.

There’s been much uproar (including from Minnesota’s governor) that this is an outrage given that the public put up a large chunk of the money for the Vikings’ new stadium (at the behest of Minnesota’s governor), and you can understand that fans aren’t happy to hear that seats at their shiny new football home will come with a mortgage in addition to yearly payments. But really, PSLs are just an early form of crowd-funding: By asking fans to put up cash for something that was previously free (the right to be on the season-ticket list), teams are effectively monetizing an asset they hadn’t used before, while fans get something they can sell when they’re done with it instead of just dropping their ticket rights for nothing. (The Vikings PSLs are perpetual so long as you keep buying season tickets, and can be sold after the first year.) And if they really think it’s too rich for their blood, they can refuse to buy the PSLs at this price and force the Vikings to drop their rates as other teams have done — yes, it’s part of the growing aristicratization of sports, but we’ve crossed that bridge already, and without PSLs the Vikings would likely just charge even more for tickets themselves.

If you want a cause for outrage, focus on the fact that the state is actually selling the PSLs on the Vikings’ behalf, as a tax dodge. Or on the fact that the state agreed to pay for half the stadium construction cost (really more than 100% of the cost when operating subsidies and tax breaks are figured in, but who’s counting?) because Vikings owner Zygi Wilf only could afford to pay for the other half, when Wilf’s half will likely be mostly covered by PSL fees and naming rights. Who pushed for that deal again? Oh right, that guy.

Vikings e-pulltabs plan hit with lawsuit, now officially complete disaster

Minnesota’s beleaguered e-pulltab gambling scheme has hit yet another bump in the road, this one a lawsuit charging that the maker of the games failed to get a license from Apple to run them on iPads. Which led to this hilarious lede on the Minnesota Public Radio website:

A dispute over licensing the iPads used in Minnesota’s most popular electronic pulltab games has brought roll out of the devices to a halt, at least temporarily.

All together now: How can you tell?

MPR also suggests that this could cause problems for the Vikings‘ stadium financing deal, but given that the state pretty much already threw up its hands and decided to use other tax money to pay off the Vikings stadium, it probably won’t matter much. If the games are shut down, though (currently they’re under a restraining order allowing them to remain in operation), patrons of Knucklehead’s may have to find something else to do to pass the time for a while.

Vikings bonds sold, Minnesotans can look forward to 30 years of exciting annual bills

And the Minnesota Vikings stadium bonds have been sold:

“It’s a good day. It’s a good day to get the sale done and move on to the building of the stadium,” said [Minnesota Management and Budget] commissioner Jim Schowalter. “The rates we got were really good because of market conditions. That said, we’re probably still paying a little bit higher rates than we would for our typical general obligation bonds.”

MMB said the interest rate on the sale was 4.27 percent for the combination of taxable and non-taxable bonds. The money will pay for the state and city’s portion of the $1 billion stadium, now under construction in Minneapolis.

The bonds are for $462 million, but counting operating subsidies from the city of Minneapolis and the value of free land and property-tax breaks, the total public subsidy is more like $1.1 billion. At least Minnesotans will get to host a Super Bowl for their trouble, maybe. Woo?

Vikings stadium lawsuit dismissed, bond sale back on track

The Minnesota Supreme Court abruptly dismissed the lawsuit against the Vikings stadium deal yesterday, so abruptly, in fact, that you can still view the headline for the story that the Pioneer Press pulled down for the “Lawsuit dismissed” version in its URL. (Looks like the now-disappeared story was “Vikings Stadium Deal Could Collapse Without Quick Ruling.” So much for that.)

With the suit dismissed, the state of Minnesota can now move ahead with selling $468 million worth of bonds to finance the public’s share of the project (the part that isn’t city operating subsidies, free land, and property tax breaks, anyway). The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will have to do some juggling to pay its bills the next couple of weeks until the bond sale goes through, but that shouldn’t be too big of a problem — especially not compared to the far bigger temporary shortfall the state will be facing in a couple of years.

Watch the Metrodome roof deflate on Saturday, you know you wanna

That whole thing about the lawsuit that’s keeping Minnesota from selling Vikings stadium bonds notwithstanding, the team’s old Metrodome home is still being dismantled, with the seats ripped out and the turf pulled up so far. Next up tomorrow morning is deflating the roof, and you can watch it via the Vikings website right here. Though right now it appears to be a still photo, so tough to say what you’ll see tomorrow, let alone when (they haven’t set a deflation time yet).

Either way, it’s never going to be as awesome as this, so let’s just watch that again.

Minnesota demands $50m bond from filers of Vikings lawsuit

A quick clarification of yesterday’s story about the lawsuit that has temporarily halted Minnesota Vikings bond sales: While plaintiffs Douglas Mann, Linda Mann, and David Tilsen originally argued that the state was illegally using city tax money without holding a public vote, that case was dismissed in November on the grounds that the state legislature explicitly overrode Minneapolis’s public vote law as part of the stadium legislation. The latest lawsuit, rather, charges that using city funds to pay off debts that are “not peculiarly for the benefit” of the city is illegal under the state constitution.

In any event, the state Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority fired back at the Manns and Tilsen yesterday, asking the state supreme court to dismiss the suit as “frivolous,” and asking that the plaintiffs be required to post a $49.7 million bond to cover losses the project may face from any delay. That’s a hefty chunk of change, and appeared to take Douglas Mann by surprise, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

When told of the nearly $50 million bond request, Mann, a registered nurse and former candidate for Minneapolis mayor, replied only after a long pause. “I haven’t been served with any papers, so I won’t have any comment until then,” he said.

Whatever you think of the merits of Mann’s case, it is a bit problematic if only people who have $50 million sitting around can file legal challenges against state actions. (Though I suppose it’s also problematic if citizens can cost the state millions of dollars by filing nuisance lawsuits.) The Star Trib doesn’t give any indication of where the state came up with that $49.7 million figure, but hopefully the court will ask that question, and questions about whether the state is just trying to bully its way out of a legal challenge, before deciding on the state’s request.

Vikings bond sales halted at last minute under lawsuit threat

Perennial Former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Douglas Mann’s lawsuit against the Minnesota Vikings stadium project, which charges that the state’s end run around a Minneapolis law requiring voter approval of stadium spending was illegal, has been burbling along for a while now without attracting too much attention. That all changed yesterday, however, as state officials announced that today’s planned sale of bonds for the stadium would be delayed until a court can rule on Mann’s request on Friday for a “petition for a writ of prohibition.”

This wouldn’t seem like a big deal, given that demolition of the Vikings’ old stadium is already underway, presumably using either money from the team or cash raised by the state’s cigarette tax windfall, neither of which requires bonds. But the state’s head of the stadium project was still in full panic mode yesterday:

“Major problems will result from any significant delay,” Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said Sunday in a conference call that also included state Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter. The authority will own and operate the $1 billion stadium slated to open in July 2016 on the Metrodome site.

“We will be short $28 million if we are not able to pay our bills [without bond proceeds] … by the end of the month. Architects and Minnesota companies have done work in the past month and submitted bills due at the end of January,” said Kelm-Helgen. She said bond funds need to be available by Jan. 23 to avoid delays that could postpone the stadium opening for a year.

That sounds to me a bit like an attempt to arm-twist the courts into a quick decision — give us our money by January 23 or Vikings fans will have to spend another season watching football outdoors. If it’s legit, though, it’s just another indication of how Minnesota officials really haven’t thought through having enough money to pay off their bills at the time that they’re due. You’d think that a bill hastily cobbled together over a weekend after the NFL commissioner made vague threats about moving the team wouuld be better thought out than this.