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Details scarce at Vikings stadium oversight committee

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  • October 3, 2013 - 3:28 PM

Members of the Minnesota legislative commission tasked with overseeing the new Minnesota Vikings stadium said Thursday they are concerned they will not review the final agreements before they are approved and signed.

“I don’t want to have one of those oh-my-gosh moments,” when I read the morning newspaper, said state Rep. Joe Adkins, an Inver Grove Heights DFLer who serves on the oversight commission. “My concern over the past few months is that credibility of myself and the other commissioners is somewhat in jeopardy as we have not been meeting.”

Members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority are scheduled to meet Thursday night to approve the final agreements for the stadium, which will spell out the operating terms for the stadium and divvy up millions in stadium revenue over the course of the 30-year lease.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, who chairs the authority, said the final details were still being worked out, just hours ahead of the 5 p.m. meeting.

The stadium agreement lawmakers passed was “very specific” and helps protect the state and taxpayers, Kelm-Helgen said.

Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, sat quietly during the hour-long hearing and later said state leaders need to scrap the current deal and re-open the stadium agreement next year.

“We learned today that the oversight committee provides no oversight,” Barrett said.

Barrett said the stadium agreement will allow the team to profit off the sale of personal seat licenses and other stadium revenue sources to pay their share.

“With the use of external funding sources in their back pocket, Vikings team owners will most likely make a considerable profit rather than a contribution toward stadium,” he said. “This should make Minnesotans very nervous.”

Kelm-Helgen released few details ahead of the meeting later in the evening.

The Vikings have agreed to pay about $10 million in rent, going up 3 percent every year to cover inflation, she said. The roughly $1 million-per-game rent will cover about 70 percent of the annual operating costs for the entire.

The goal, Kelm-Helgen said, is she never wants the authority to come back to lawmakers “hat in hand, and say we can’t pay for our building.”

A dispute about the number of personal seat licenses that will be sold in the stadium remained a sticking point that is likely to be one of the final issues settled in the closing moments of negotiations, Kelm-Helgen said.

“When I go back this afternoon, that’s one piece we are going to wrap up,” she said.

Once the authority debates the final proposals, Kelm-Helgen said, they expect to sign the agreement later in the evening or Friday morning, at the latest.

Later this month, the general contractor is expected to reveal its bottom line cost for the entire project, a price it cannot exceed. The Vikings are considering some modifications and improvements that the team will cover, Kelm-Helgen said.

In November, the state will sell bonds to pay its share of the roughly $975 million stadium.

Stadium officials expect to break ground around the same time and will begin dismantling the Metrodome after the last Vikings home game, early in 2014.

© 2014 Star Tribune