Gov. Mark Dayton has told the Minnesota Vikings that he is "greatly distressed" that the team is considering a plan to charge season ticket holders a fee that would help pay the team's share of a new $975 million stadium.
In a harsh letter to owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, Dayton stressed that the private contribution is the team's responsibility and not the responsibility of season ticket holders.
"I said this new stadium would be a 'People's Stadium,' not a 'Rich People's Stadium,'" Dayton wrote.
Dayton warned that it would better to not build a new stadium than have it betray the trust of the regular Minnesotans who supported the project. He also said he would urge the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority against authorizing the proposed "Stadium Builder's Licenses."
"If necessary, I will go to the Legislature next January and urge the the authorization be rescinded," he added.
A spokesman for the Vikings has not responded yet.
The license option Dayton is now objecting to is part of the stadium bill lawmakers passed and he signed into law back in May. It reads: "The NFL team/private contribution, including stadium builder license proceeds, for stadium costs must be made in cash in the amount of at least $477,000,000."
A later section says: "The authority shall own and retain the exclusive right to sell stadium builder's licenses in the stadium. The authority will retain the NFL team to act as the authority's agent in marketing and selling such licenses."
Here's the official news release reaction from the Vikings:
The Minnesota Vikings greatly appreciate Governor Mark Dayton's support for the new multi-purpose stadium for the Vikings and the State of Minnesota. However, we are disappointed by his recent letter to the team, which does not recognize a key component of the stadium agreement struck by the Vikings, State and Local leaders this past spring.
The stadium bill, and the prior term sheet, that was negotiated with the Vikings over the last two legislative sessions by the Governor's own representatives and legislative leaders, includes provisions that expressly authorize the sale of stadium builder's licenses and include the proceeds of any sale in the project budget. Stadium builder's licenses were vetted by the Legislature, testified to by Vikings and State of Minnesota negotiators, and most importantly, specifically reflected in the stadium legislation that was passed and signed by the Governor.
The Vikings look forward to discussing this issue and moving forward with the agreement that was completed after many long years of effort.
Good for Governor Dayton to speak up. A license fee in the long run is the same as a user ticket fee, the very thing the Vikings vehemently argued against during subsidy negotiations! Quit fleecing the public Mr. Wilf and abide by your part of the agreement.
Maybe I'm confused by the wording here.
When it says "The authority shall own and retain the exclusive right to sell...", would that revenue contribute to the team portion or the public portion?
If that money would be raised for the team's portion, is Dayton strongly objecting to a thing in the legislation that was explicitly included as a potential option for the team to exercise, assuming permission from the Authority?
I don't like the idea of the Wilf getting around opening his pockets by using seat licenses either, but you put it in the legislation. It seems a bit disingenuous of Dayton to get angry about the team trying to employ an option that was written into the legislation.
All of this is moot if I'm just confused.
(Side note - I love how in this context, "The Authority" sounds like some faceless, secular god from a second-rate dystopia novel.)