Reusse: For Vikings' Bagley, more is never enough

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2013 - 11:43 PM
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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and team vice president Lester Bagley.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Les (Wants More) Bagley pushed endlessly for a new Vikings stadium. He was at the Legislature in May 2006, trying to derail the Twins’ ballpark deal unless a Vikings stadium was included.

He helped to make a deal with Anoka County for a stadium in Blaine, and a deal with Ramsey County for a stadium in Arden Hills, and when those went away, Les came up with this:

On May 10, 2012, the Legislature approved a new dome in Minneapolis for the Vikings that will turn into the bonanza to beat all stadium bonanzas for Bagley’s boss, Zygmunt Wilf, of the Short Hills, N.J., Wilfs.

Bagley received a nice bonus check for his stadium success. Some of us figured Lester’s moaning in behalf of the Wilfs might be complete.

Turns out, even with the stadium plan unveiled and demolition of the Metrodome set for January 2014, there is no end to the requests from the Vikings.

A week ago, Bagley showed up at a meeting of Minneapolis’ now-disbanded Stadium Implementation Committee [SIC] and informed it of the latest crisis:

The plan for a $400 million office, retail and housing development near the new stadium (aka the Taj Ma Zygi) will consume 800 tailgating spaces for a Vikings game day.

“It’s a hot-button issue with our fans,’’ Bagley said. “[For the tailgaters] it’s about being in the vicinity of the stadium, to put down their beverage and walk to the game …’’

The city of Minneapolis is on the hook for $309 million in construction and operation costs for the new stadium. Throw in interest payments for 30 years and that becomes $678 million.

The offsets for Minneapolis are not 10 Vikings games per season, or a future Super Bowl, or a world-class venue for big trucks to crush smaller vehicles.

The offsets will be bringing workers downtown on a daily basis. Wells Fargo could bring 5,000 or more of those, if it becomes a main tenant in two office buildings that are part of the Ryan Cos. plan for five blocks currently owned by a local newspaper.

“The Ryan project is a huge benefit to the city, but it also puts some pressure on the tailgating experience,’’ Bagley said.

Oh, no. Not that, Les.

Let’s balance these items: Thousands of employees working 202 days per year = 800 gaggles of people who like to drink on asphalt 10 games per year.

Mayor R.T. Rybak and Chuck Lutz, a stadium point man for the city, met earlier with the Vikings to discuss this issue. They should have offered this message to Les Wants More: “We’re squeezing blood from turnips to make this work. Our bond rating has gone down. Tailgating is a ‘you’ problem, Mr. Bagley.”

As a reminder, here’s the breakdown on the alleged $477 million the Vikings are putting into the $975 million project:

The $200 million “loan’’ from the NFL? The Vikings will pay that back with club seat money they would normally share with the league. Ninety-seven percent (31/32nds) of the money the Wilfs will use to pay back the NFL is money that would have gone to their NFL partners anyway.

Naming rights? With the economy rebounded and the NFL red hot, I’m estimating $10 million a year. Zygi won’t get it all up front, but he can take the deal to the bank, pick up a quick $150 million to $200 million and pay it off as the sponsor’s checks come in.

  • related content

  • Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, left, and coach Leslie Frazier.

  • Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ VP of public affairs and stadium development, wants more from Minneapolis.

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