Viking Raid: Minnesota Citizens Balk At Stadium Deal

It came without warning. Innocent citizens were going about their lives when Vikings suddenly appeared from nowhere and took everything of value. It is a common tale that was repeated too many times in history, but the most recent raid reportedly comes from last week in Minnesota where citizens learned that they will have to foot the bill for much of a new stadium — despite the belief of most citizens that they had blocked such an effort.

Advocate groups are calling a recent deal with the team as nothing more than a “real estate scam” in which the owners of the Minnesota Vikings are going to tap Minnesotans for hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium. The owners themselves are flush as is the NFL generally. Owners are seeing massive profits while NFL lawyers are threatening anyone who uses even the symbol of the NFL without paying them. At the same time, however, they are demanding that taxpayers given them hundreds of millions of dollars for a new stadium. Thus, as NFL owners sue people for even using the term “Super Bowl,” they expect financially strapped citizens to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars.

Behind the deal is the owners — real estate developer Zygi Wilf and his five partners who bought the team in 2005 for a reported $600 million. It is now worth $179 million more in roughly six years. Even if you count the seventh year, that is $25 million a year in just the value of the franchise and not counting the revenue generated by the team.

While a poll showed 68 percent of citizens opposed public funding, politicians appear ready to sign the deal with the owners.

Politicians often embrace new stadiums despite studies that show that it is the owners not the public that derive the most benefit. Highly profitable teams routinely go to taxpayers to pay for newer stadiums. Yet, it allows politicians to be seen supporting the team and Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is no exception.

Yet, in 1997, Minneapolis voters voted to pass a referendum requiring their approval of any stadium deal. Dayton, therefore, should redirect over $300 million in Minneapolis taxes to the stadium — money that was supposed to pay off the city’s convention center. The end run by Dayton has enraged some taxpayers and hopefully will trigger a frank discussion of the real benefits to taxpayers in giving such windfalls to NFL owners. The owners are demanding that taxpayers pay 60 percent of the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium despite the fact that the state has had to shutdown critical services last year due to its financial crisis.

What is astonishing is that professional teams demand newer stadiums even before the old stadiums are paid off. For example, in the case of the Meadowlands Stadium, New Yorkers were still carrying about $110 million in debt on the old Giants stadium when they broke ground. The old stadium is now a parking lot.

Here is a Cato study on the benefits of such stadium: coates

The scene is not pretty however as this picture demonstrates as the owners and Dayton presented their proposal to the taxpayers of Minnesota.

Source: Think Progress

23 thoughts on “Viking Raid: Minnesota Citizens Balk At Stadium Deal”

  1. The real issue here is the Metrodome and its perceived inadequacies. Apparently, the field (“Mall of America Field,” mind you) is 110 yards long when the Vikings have the ball, and 90 yards long when the visiting team has it.

    We should stop, however, identifying the heavily clad robots on the gridiron by cities or regions, and identify them as what they really are: Wilf’s Vikings, Johnson’s Jets, Kraft’s Patriots, Mara’s Giants, etc.

  2. public funding of stadiums should be made illegal, if the market supports the building of a new stadium, the owners should pay for it out of profits and do as we all do when we build a house. Take out a 30 year loan. Why should middle class people pay for rich people to make money?

    In socialism, it is the wealthy who benefit most.

    If you progressives would embrace free markets, this type of crap wouldnt be going on and poor people could actually get ahead because they arent paying for the rich man’s capital investment. They could be putting their own money toward their own capital investment.

  3. The team is worth $779M.

    60% of $1.1B is $726M

    Is an NFL team subject to eminent domain?

    For an extra $53M, the State/City can acquire the team and not build a new stadium.

    Socialize cost, socialize benefit.

    Sounds like a BIG WIN for Viking fans. I’m sure they would buy the bonds to finance the ED award.

  4. as a person of norwegen ancestry i have no problem with their use of a viking as a mascot. but the horns look f***kin goofy.

  5. Seattle had no major league team in any sport. Then, the Seattle Supersonics came to town. Later, they left for want of a stadium and now play in Oklahoma City. It was heartbreaking to lose the team that took a chance on this city first. But, we still have Seahawks and the Mariners. Since I am an avid football fan, I can live with this situation. Still, I have fond memories of the Seattle Supersonics and wish they were still here.

  6. Socialise the costs — privatize the profits. That’s life in the United States of Anything For A Buck.

    Carlin said it best. Asking, why do we “keep electing these rich $&@?suckers who don’t give a #%€£ about you and me?”

    How many times is Lucy going to pull away the ball, leaving Charlie Brown flat on his back feeling like a total chump, before the Charlie Brown 99%ers “get it”?

    Left-right. Democrat-Reblican. Different piles. Same stink.

  7. BTW Polad died shortly after the deal went through so all that money didn’t do him a bit of good. But he made his bones throwing farmers off their land during the depression so I am sure he never lost a second of sleep over this.

  8. doggie – you do know that the LA Lakers won several championships as the Minneapolis Lakers, right?

    SM – Dayton was not my choice, I voted for him because he was the only choice available on the general election ballot.

    The entire state got together to screw Hennepin County into paying for the lousy Twins stadium. Karl Polad was worth $2B+, he screwed the original owner out of the team for $30M and got the state to spend a half a Billion to increase the value of the team to $125M. We should have just given him a quarter of a billion & told him to build his own damn stadium. I don’t know the Wilfs net worth but it probably is north of 2B but they want a billion dollars with an even worse ROI.

  9. The LA Vikings. Sounds comical. If I was in Minnesota I would sue for a name change for that team.. Minnesota Thieves.

  10. “To me the only decent franchise in all of American Professional sports is the Green Bay Packers, which is owned generally by its’ local fans,” (Mike S) … hear, hear!!

    As to the Browns … we fought tooth and nail to keep the “Browns” and succeeded in forcing the NFL to designate the Ravens an expansion team and Baltimore (a pox on their Constellation) an expansion recipient which cost them all a great deal of additional money. Then we built a new stadium showing Modell, in no uncertain terms, we wanted the team, not him.

  11. Regarding Jude and Blouise’s comments both of them know that the Browns and the Colts were hugely successful sports teams in their home cities and their desertion was simply a matter of a better deal. Both of these NFL franchises had extremely loyal fan bases and sold out stadiums, but that mattered not at all to the likes of Irsay and Modell.

  12. As a lifelong sports fa this has been an issue dear to me since 1958 when my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers ran off to LA and the multi-million dollar land deal that attracted them. I was fourteen at the time and so since then my fandom has always been imbued with a sense of cynicism towards sports owners. The Cato study is not the first to indicate that municipal/state backing for sports teams is a financial loser for the citizen and actually disruptive to a locales economic situation.

    In the NFL particularly, we have very wealthy people who buy these teams for the ego gratification of owners gaining pleasure by controlling the lives of famous athletes. The ownership’s fandom is really a reflection of their own egotism. This is true of the Irsay’s, the Kraft’s, the Johnson’s, etc. They buy teams that due to the incredibly rich Media Contracts/Merchandising revenues generated by the NFL monopoly, are guaranteed profits. They continually raise prices to the point where their average fan literally cannot afford tickets and so stadium seats become the possessions of people with high incomes, or those willing to spend an enormous part of their income to be seen as insider fans.

    Perhaps the greatest example of the ego driven team owner was George Steinbrenner of the Yankees. Steinbrenner, who inherited the world’s largest shipbuilding company, was a relatively obscure man from Cleveland
    when he bought the NY Yankees. He instantly gained fame in NY for demeaning his players and his managers in a way that made clear he was better and smarter than them. Thus his sobriquet “The Boss”. Through his mismanagement he ran his inheritance into bankruptcy and dissolution. However, he had been encouraged to buy the Yankees for a mere $10,000,000 from CBS, by a man named Mike Burke. Though the Yankees were the most storied team in baseball history, they had fallen on temporary hard times due to mismanagement by CBS. Burke had to convince Steinbrenner of the steal (deal) and was ostensibly Steinbrenner’s partner. Burke was cruelly jettisoned six months later. The Yankees are now worth billion$ and now run by Steinbrenner’s son. Yankee Stadium, one of the most hallowed venues in sports has been rebuilt twice in the last 5 decades at the expense of the City in terms of cash or lucrative land deals. Front Row box seats go for more than $1,000 per game.

    To me the only decent franchise in all of American Professional sports is the Green Bay Packers, which is owned generally by its’ local fans, thus there are no blackmailing threats to move the team. I love professional sports, but with that love comes the knowledge that it is a profitable and ultimately cruel business. Public money should have no place in it.

  13. Jude,

    Don’t bother speaking of what happened to poor Baltimore ’cause you people tried your best to steal the Browns … we gladly let you take Modell … (spit, stomp, throw salt) … after he was gone, we built a new stadium.

  14. The problem is, if you don’t build them one, they leave… Then you are out that revenue and all, too. The only way to fix it would be to make a law in every state that says taxes won’t be used to build stadiums… Then they’d have to build their own and couldn’t run off to a place that promised to build them one.

    I speak as Baltimorean and I know that is exactly what the local team here did. Not that I even like them… But they had to run off because they were offered a better deal elsewhere, and nobody wants that outcome either. No, seriously, nobody should want The Vikings.

  15. This has been going on for a very long time. A Minnesota governor that loses the Vikings to another city is toast. As far as politicians go Mark is one of the good guys.

  16. ” For example, in the case of the Meadowlands Stadium****, New Jerseyans ****were still carrying about $110 million in debt on the old Giants stadium when they broke ground. The old stadium is now a parking lot.”

  17. Raymond J Keating from Cato produced this policy Analysis in 1999:

    “Indeed, the results of studies on changes in the economy resulting from the presence of stadiums, arenas, and sports teams show no positive economic impact from professional sports —or a possible negative effect.”

    “And while the politics of sports pork can be high profile and glitzy, it amounts to the same pathetic special interest politics we see every day in government, whereby the many are taxed for the benefit of an elite few. In this case, the few happen to be millionaire sports team owners and players.”

    This is also a very contentious issue in Arizona, as the City of Glendale is on the hook for the Westgate/Coyotes boondoggle.

  18. Hmmm, Viking? Isn’t that a throw-back to some violent European history?

    Here’s another violent European throw-back that people ought to understand in the USofA; Jacobin.

    Drip by drip you’re on the path to some sort of revolution, I guess.

  19. the gods of foolishness are watching in amusement….. they are lesser god than the gop money launders…….

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