Recently, a member of the Minnesota Senate justified his opposition to a new stadium by claiming that the Vikings haven’t been forthcoming with financial information.
“The Vikings have asked for the single largest taxpayer subsidy for any professional sports stadium in recent U.S. history, while at the same time refusing to disclose financial information that is required of all other projects receiving taxpayer money,” Senator Scott Dibble said in an email message to a constituent that was forwarded by the recipient to PFT.
The Vikings on Friday night responded to Senator Dibble’s contention. In an email to PFT, Vikings director of corporate communications Jeff Anderson explained that the Vikings have disclosed relevant financial information.
“The truth is the Vikings have allowed representatives of Governor Dayton to review the team’s audited financials,” Anderson said. “In fact, [Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission] Chair Ted Mondale testified to that point during the House Government Operations Committee hearing this past Monday, April 16. That financial review helped shape the agreement struck between Governor Dayton, State and City leaders and the Vikings on March 1, 2012.”
As to Senator Dibble’s separate contention that stadiums in other cities have been built with 70-to-90 percent private financing, Anderson agreed with that observation. “However, those markets — Dallas, New York, New England, San Francisco and Washington — are significantly larger markets that allow extensive PSL programs and generate much higher stadium revenues,” Anderson said. “The Wilfs have guaranteed the third-largest private contribution in NFL history and the largest rent payment of any team that does not operate the facility. This commitment comes despite Minnesota being a small- to mid-size market and despite many years of delay that have more than doubled the project costs.”
It’s important for folks like Senator Dibble to articulate their concerns, and it’s important for the Vikings to respond. Regardless of the outcome, a public discourse is critical to ensuring that the final position reflects the will of the people of Minnesota.
It’s also critical that the folks who support and the folks who oppose the stadium take advantage of the various electronic tools for expressing their views. This is the NFL’s first serious flirtation with relocation since Al Gore’s invention took the world by storm, and those who want it, and those who don’t, need to spend more time recruiting fence-sitters and encouraging those who already have picked a side to actively join the cause.