Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf today said the team is breaking off relations with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission until the commission loosens the purse strings in its Metrodome lease and helps it build a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
In a blistering letter sent this afternoon to Paul Thatcher, chairman of the commission's Finance Committee, the Wilfs said they were "shocked, exasperated and extremely disappointed" by the committee's proposal Tuesday to encourage the team to extend its Metrodome lease by two years.
The resolution, which will be on the full commission's agenda Thursday, proposes awarding the team all post-season stadium revenues if they agree to a lease extension.
If the team refuses, the resolution proposes to start collecting $4 million a year from the Vikings -- rent that it has forgiven the team since 2002 in an effort to help it stay competitive with better-positioned NFL teams.
The Vikings have said that they consider a lease extension unacceptable. Team officials have been working for the last few months to lay the groundwork for a successful public financing plan in the Minnesota Legislature during the 2010 session.
In the letter, the Wilfs called the committee resolution "a cynical attempt to advance a proposal that you know is totally unacceptable to the Minnesota Vikings and fails to address the issues important to both the short-term and long-term success of this franchise in Minnesota."
They deplored the fact that they were not informed of the committee's action ahead of time.
"As the last tenant in the Metrodome, we would expect to be treated fairly and with some minimum level of respect," they said. "Your actions yesterday leave us confused and questioning the future of this franchise."
They ended the letter by saying they looked forward to the sports commission joining with Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state leaders "in moving this discussion forward."
Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455