The Vikings could be impacted in a major way by the NFL's plan to end its $100 million-per-year revenue sharing program that has subsidized lower-revenue teams. ESPN cited multiple sources Sunday in reporting that the league has notified the players' union that the program will end effective next March.
The Vikings have been a major recipient of revenue sharing because they generate among the lowest-stadium revenue in the NFL playing in the Metrodome, which opened in 1982. The team's ownership group, which is led by Zgyi and Mark Wilf, have been working to get a new stadium built on the site of the Metrodome but so far have had little success.
The Wilfs have shown a willingness to put large sums of cash into their franchise by paying free agents such as Brett Favre, Steve Hutchinson and Visanthe Shiancoe and trading for and signing Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, but getting substantial money from revenue sharing certainly eased the out-of-pocket burden on getting some of those big-name players.
Wilf reportedly did issue a capital call for slightly less than $20 million to his investment partners after Allen was acquired from the Chiefs and signed to a six-year, $74 million in contract in April 2008.
Although the Vikings won't comment, the annual NFL rankings of franchise values by Forbes Magazine this year had them ranked 31st, or second to last, in the league to Oakland with a value of $835 million. That value, which was down from $839 million in 2008, is based largely on the fact the team is unable to generate much money playing in the Metrodome.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones told Twin Cities reporters before a preseason game at the Metrodome this year that revenue sharing was going to go away. He reportedly was handed a six-figure fine by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his comments because it violated a gag order from the league.
According to the ESPN report, the NFL's decision on revenue sharing is not a done deal because the players assocation wants a say in this. By Tuesday, the NFLPA is expected to challenge the move with a Special Master. The players claim, according to the all-sports network, that the owners can't terminate revenue sharing without the union's approval because it was adopted in the 2006 labor agreement and that doesn't expire until March 2011.
The league's stance is that the supplemental model only had to be enforced in years where there was a salary cap and at this point 2010 is going to be an uncapped year. According to ESPN, approximately eight to 12 lower-revenue teams have qualified on a yearly basis to draw from the supplemental pool. The $100 million fund is part of $6.5 billion in revenues shared by all the teams.
Keep in mind, NFL teams all share the mega-dollars that are generated from television contracts with CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. The league also has its own network that shows a package of games.