The National Football League’s owners adopted a new stadium loan program Wednesday that could provide the team with up to $200 million toward a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
The vote, at a meeting in Dallas, added some clarity to where the Vikings would get its $425 million contribution to a proposed $1.1 billion stadium plan, but still left uncertain how $650 million in taxpayer money would be financed.
“We’re not guaranteed to get all $200 million,” said Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president for stadium development and public affairs.
But Bagley said the league’s new loan program, known as G-4, combined with the NFL’s announcement Wednesday that it had extended its television contracts with the major networks was welcome news for the team’s stadium efforts in Minnesota.
“The NFL is a healthy league,” Bagley said Wednesday of the television contract extension. But he added that “while the league is healthy, the stadium situation in Minnesota is not.”
After Wednesday's owner's meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that the new loan program was "much improved" over the league's old loan program and would provide "additional money that will be available based on the private contribution to these projects."
Goodell added that state and local officials in Minnesota were "focusing on solutions" to a new stadium. "They know [the team's] lease [at the Metrodome] is expiring, but they want to make sure the Vikings have a suitable stadium going forward," he said.
The NFL commissioner also said that putting a team in Los Angeles -- a possible new home for the Vikings should a stadium not be built in Minnesota -- would likely not be settled in 2012. "I don't think we'll be in a position to make that decisioin by 2012," he said.
Though the Vikings have provided few details on how they plan to help finance a new $1.1 billion stadium, the NFL has been restructuring a loan program for stadium construction. League officials, while visiting the state Capitol in St. Paul in October, said the new program could provide up to $150 million to a new Vikings stadium.
In a later interview Neil Glat, the NFL’s senior vice president for corporate development, outlined how the proposed loan program would work. Under the plan, he said, the first $100 million of the loan would be repaid by the visiting teams’ share of club seat premiums and by the visiting teams’ share of general admission ticket revenue.
Glat said the Vikings may not have to repay the loan out of its own new stadium revenue as long as the Vikings sold enough club seats. “Their main focus is selling those club seats,” Glat said of the Vikings.
The team wants to build a new stadium in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills, and have taxpayers subsidize $650 million of the project. The stadium, which has been the subject of heated controversy, needs legislative approval in Minnesota and state and local officials have yet to decide on a site or a public funding plan.
At a Minnesota Senate panel hearing last week on public funding for the stadium, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, pressed Vikings officials on where the team’s $425 million contribution to the stadium would come from. But Ortman, after a Vikings official explained the team’s stadium strategy, said she was frustrated.
“What are the main elements for [your] $425 million dollars for contribution?” Ortman asked.
After a Vikings officials spoke, the state senator asked again.
“I don’t know what the owner’s contribution is going to be,” she said. “It leaves more questions, rather than answers.”
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