Stadium bill needs some adjustments

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 5, 2011 - 11:58 PM

The NFL doesn't believe an income tax surcharge on players is legal, so the Vikings need other finance options.

Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune file

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Lester Bagley, vice president of public affairs and stadium development for the Vikings, believes the team will still get a stadium bill passed during a special session of the Legislature.

However, one big change will have to be made in the bill before the Legislature considers it, and that would be the elimination of the proposed income tax surcharge on the salaries of NFL players. Another type of tax will have to fund the stadium because NFL sources believe it's illegal.

"The tax on the players is questionable," Bagley said, "because the NFL has raised the concern that it may not be constitutional to tax one class of people, to single them out.

"There's a question about the income tax piece, but the sports memorabilia, the lottery scratch-off, the satellite download -- those all are viable finance options that are still in play. I think there's enough, if you raise the tax high enough, there's enough there to cover the state's obligation.

"You may have to go higher than what the bill says, or right now the legislation says $2 million from the lottery, but as we know, the Vikings, in their lottery scratch-off game last year in 2010, sold $13 million in lottery scratch-offs. So maybe we take that $2 million and ratchet it up to $4 [million] or $5 million. There's things like that you can do, but that should be enough to cover the state's obligation."

But nothing is going to happen with the stadium bill until the budget deficit is settled.

Bagley said the Vikings still are meeting with the Legislature and the governor's office on the stadium bill.

"Well you know we're charging forward, we don't really have a choice but to move it forward as best we can," Bagley said. "We're optimistic. I think [Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf] have done what they've been asked. They put $407 million on the table, plus about $20 million a year in operating cost and capital improvement. They put significant capital at risk. They've got a great site, they've got a great local partner, so I think we're in good shape because we delivered. The Vikings delivered, the Wilfs delivered what they were asked to deliver."

The Vikings are working with MnDOT to solve the stadium roads upgrade problem, which the team believes will cost between $110 million and $130 million and will need about $4 million a year to finance.

That problem and a tax to replace the players' income tax surcharge are the issues that need to be solved before a stadium bill can pass.

"I think we're in good shape," Bagley said. "We're still working on putting the bill together, putting the package together, and also working on the transportation issue. We're moving forward. We're still working. We're still in play."

Kaplan was important

The death last Tuesday of Sheldon Kaplan, who was a long-time attorney and member of the Vikings' Board of Directors, reminded me of how Kaplan was a great peacemaker among the five original board members. Max Winter, H.P. Skoglund, Bernie Ridder Jr., Ole Haugsrud and Bill Boyer never got along.

Kaplan was instrumental in helping to make big decisions for the Vikings through the Winter and Mike Lynn eras.

He was involved in the most important decision of all, when the original board of directors gave up an American Football League franchise that eventually became the Oakland Raiders and instead concentrated on getting into the NFL.

None of the Vikings owners could legally have contact with the NFL, so I was the go-between for them and George Halas of the Bears. Halas called me one day and told me to encourage the Vikings owners to wait for the NFL and not go with the AFL.

On the same day Halas' call came, there was a meeting in Skoglund's old North American Life Insurance building with the five owners, Kaplan and myself from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., when the decision was made to drop the AFL franchise after it had been announced at a big luncheon at the old Nicollet Hotel.

Kaplan played a big part in the Vikings operation for many years along with his legal partner, Sam Kaplan, who wasn't related.


• Twins President Dave St. Peter said while he expects most Twins games to sell out, there are a limited number of tickets for all remaining home games at Target Field, including the upcoming homestand coming up.

• Don Lucia said he just received a new draft of his proposed Gophers hockey coaching contract, but has not had a chance to study it. Rest assured, Lucia is going to get the contract. He also said John Hill will be back as an assistant coach next season. ... One of Don Lucia's sons, Tony Lucia, played only two exhibition games with the Worcester Sharks -- San Jose's American Hockey League affiliate -- before suffering a concussion and missing the rest of the season. He feels well and plans to play this season.

• Don Lucia was in Toronto with another son, Mario, for last week's NHL scouting combine with other projected top draft choices. While there, Don Lucia had a chance to talk to Michael Santos, the assistant general manager of the Florida Panthers, and learned they definitely want Gophers star center Nick Bjugstad -- who was selected 19th overall by the Panthers in the 2010 draft -- to play another year in college. Also attending the combine were Seth Ambroz of New Prague, Mike Reilly of Chanhassen and Joe LaBate of Burnsville. ... Reilly, a junior who has committed to Minnesota, and his brothers, Ryan and Connor, will play for Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League next season. Mario Lucia might also play for the same team.

• Former Gophers starting pitcher Seth Rosin has started coming out of the bullpen for the Augusta Green Jackets, the Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. After starting eight games, Rosin has pitched in relief in his past three appearances and recorded a 0.00 ERA over five shutout innings while striking out six and giving up only four hits. Rosin is currently 1-2 with a 3.82 ERA. ... Former Gophers outfielder and Hill-Murray standout Derek McCallum was recently promoted to Class A Fort Myers (Fla.) after playing 38 games with Beloit (Wis.) in the Class A Midwest League. McCallum is 5-for-19 with two runs scored and four walks through his first seven games with the Miracle. ... Michael Kvasnicka, the former Gophers third baseman who was drafted by the Houston Astros last year, is having a stellar season with Class A Lexington, hitting .307 with 33 RBI, 32 runs scored and three home runs through 51 games. Kvasnicka is tied for second on the team in runs and RBI.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. •

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