The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season. In theory, that would allow the team to move without financial consequence.
Of course, the Vikings first would need to find a new home — and the team would have to get 23 of the other 31 owners to give their blessing to the relocation. (Given that it would pull the plug on the filing of future antitrust lawsuits in the players’ preferred jurisdiction, we’ve got a feeling that owner Zygi Wilf wouldn’t have to work too hard to get the votes.)
Though the effort has languished during the 2011 session of the Minnesota Legislature, things are expected to get moving after the Easter break. According to Kevin Duschere of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the current proposal raises roughly two thirds of the state’s contribution through a 10-percent wholesale tax on all sports memorabilia, including items not licensed by the NFL and unrelated to football.
Specifically, the $29.5 million per year that the league would pump into the project includes $17.6 million from the memorabilia tax, $7.8 million from a five-percent tax on income the Vikings and their opponents earn while playing in the new stadium (we can’t imagine the NFL and the Vikings not fighting that one), $2.1 million from a Vikings-themed lottery game, $1.39 million from a 6.5-percent sales tax on satellite TV, and $650,000 from a 6.5-percent sales tax on suite, box seats, and sky box rentals at the new stadium.
But even if the state can get its 33-percent share of the money together, the project still needs a local partner to kick in another third of the total coast, and to host the new venue. Tim Nelson of Minnesota Public Radio recently detailed Hennepin County’s reluctance to take on the burden. If Hennepin County (which would put the new stadium near the Twins’ new home, Target Field) is out, the two potential suitors become Minneapolis, which would build the stadium at the site of the Metrodome, and nearby Ramsey County.
Meanwhile, the Vikings recently reached out to their 54,000-name list of season-ticket holders with an e-mail encouraging them to get involved: “[W]e can’t do this without your help. Having legislators hear from Vikings fans is crucial to the effort, so we’re asking you to please reach out to your elected officials and let them know this project is important to you.”
Frankly, the legislators shouldn’t need to hear from Vikings fans. They should be smart enough to realize on their own the benefits of building a new, first-class, multi-use facility and the consequences of allowing the Vikings franchise to become a free agent.
We continue to fear that the legislators are just smart enough to figure it all out one day too late.