Governor won't stand for Vikings stadium seat licenses

Vikings owners say licenses were in the language of agreement.

hide

Winning architect HKS Inc. designed these preliminary schematics of a new Vikings stadium. Stadium officials stress a final design will probably look much different.

Photo: , Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority via Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday threatened to undo the historic and hard-fought deal to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium if team owners insist on passing on to fans a portion of the team's share of the $975 million cost.

In a sternly worded letter to the team owners, the governor objected to a proposal to charge seat-licensing fees in exchange for premier seating choices, a move that could mean big-spenders boot longtime season-ticket holders to less desirable seats.

Fans of average means supported the stadium, "not just rich Minnesotans, because they believed the Vikings are also their team," Dayton wrote. "If a new stadium were to betray that trust, it would be better that it not be built." Dayton said he could urge lawmakers to open the contract to remove the option of seat licenses.

The team owners stood their ground on the issue, saying that seat licensing was included in the final agreement passed by the Legislature.

"Stadium builder's licenses were vetted by the Legislature, testified to by Vikings and state of Minnesota negotiators, and most importantly, specifically reflected in the stadium legislation that was passed and signed by the governor," the team said.

The issue has erupted as team owners and local officials are already dealing with a tight deadline for the complex construction project. Meanwhile, the Legislature is in the midst of a major change, with Democrats taking control in January. Several Twin Cities lawmakers who were deeply skeptical of the stadium plan and the team's contribution are expected to take over legislative leadership positions.

In recent days, the team sent an e-mail survey to season-ticket holders to gauge their willingness to pay thousands of dollars more for personal seat licenses or "stadium builder's licenses" to secure the best seats. The fee, most likely a one-time payment, would be on top of the annual cost of season tickets.

The stadium financing legislation approved last spring stipulates that revenue generated from the seat licenses would go toward the Vikings' share of the construction cost. The state and city of Minneapolis are contributing $498 million to stadium construction, with the team picking up the remainder through an NFL loan, stadium naming rights, sponsorships and, possibly, licensing fees.

"I strongly oppose shifting any part of the team's responsibility for those costs onto Minnesota Vikings fans," Dayton wrote in his letter to Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. "This private contribution is your responsibility. Not theirs. I said this new stadium would be a 'People's Stadium,' not a 'Rich People's Stadium.' I meant it then, and I mean it now."

The stadium legislation gives the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is working with the team to oversee development of the project, the right to own and sell the seat licenses, although the revenue would go to the Vikings.

"Reportedly the purpose for this arrangement is to shield revenue from taxes," Dayton wrote. "If true, I deplore it."

Dayton said he would press authority members not to sell the licenses. If that doesn't work, he said he would go back to the Legislature.

Bleeding purple, to a point

The Vikings have consistently expressed interest in the seat license concept, but have never committed themselves to it.

Several season-ticket holders, however, have said that it was clear from the survey questions that the team was serious about establishing a one-time seat license fee, similar to that in place at many NFL venues.

Doug Carlson is a passionate Vikings fan who has been a season-ticket holder for 15 years. After spending years jockeying for better seats, he finally landed two in his most cherished area, more than a dozen rows up in one of the end zones.

He is fuming about the seat licensing plans, and says he fears that some high roller will send him to less desirable seats.

Carlson said he told the ticket clerk that if the team imposes seat license fees, he's done.

"I bleed purple, but I am not going let them suck it out of me, either," Carlson said.

Team vice president Lester Bagley said last week that the Vikings had made no decisions on seat licenses or established any fees. He said the survey was done to evaluate the option and the market. He declined to make it available, calling it proprietary.

He added, however, that with the team responsible for $477 million in construction costs, "we're looking at all avenues" for financing.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said Tuesday that she had not seen the survey, even though the team's e-mail to ticket holders stated that the authority and team were conducting research.

She said that while seat licensing fees were "always an option" for the team under the legislation approved last spring, "there never was a specific dollar amount or example that was discussed" during discussions over the stadium financing bill.

Kelm-Helgen, a former Dayton staffer, said she'd been contacted by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other "elected officials" Tuesday who expressed support for Dayton's stance.

She said she had not spoken with the authority's four other members, but added, "We'll certainly not make any decisions quickly before a lot of public discussion."

Dayton told the Wilfs in his letter that, "I am greatly distressed by these developments and the future they portend. We negotiated in good faith. Not surprisingly, given the project's magnitude and complexity, some details were not fully understood and some differences still remain. They must be resolved consistent with Minnesota standards and values."

richm@startribune.com 612-673-4425 baird.helgeson@startribune.com 651-925-5044

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 94 FINAL
Chaminade 63
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close