The Minnesota Vikings are in a very interesting situation as the team lobbies for a new stadium. The Vikings have desired a stadium for awhile but have previously been mostly rebuffed by Minneapolis and their real need for a new stadium has been questioned by the local governments. However, talks now are moving forward to build a new stadium in the area. The Vikings were very clever in using leverage to get the talks going and they have become very contentious in Minnesota. The Vikings did not use the threat of relocation to make city officials jump to keep them, but instead used a different strategy.
The Vikings are essentially playing different areas of Minnesota off themselves to get the sweetest deal and best stadium. Ramsay County is seen as being the leader right now and the Vikings preferred destination, although they would certainly be open to a higher bidder as well. The new plans call for a 1.1 billion dollar stadium in Ramsay County, with the County itself financing at least 350 million. Other Minnesota representatives have questioned how Ramsay County can do this as their plan to raise sales taxes was rejected by the governor but the county maintains it can get the funds. After refusing a new stadium last year, Minneapolis is jumping into the picture and backtracking on prior statements about tax revenues that could or could not be used towards the stadium. Minneapolis would rather not build a stadium but would much rather not lose the Vikings cash cow to a rival county. A lot of people are also advocating for a Mall of America stadium. The Vikings have different municipalities in the area fighting over the chance to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for their new stadium, not a bad situation for an NFL team, especially with the vague threat of a Los Angeles move always looming with Jacksonville’s owner declaring that the new owner will keep the team in Jacksonville (assuming that isn’t a Sonics situation).
So, did the Vikings do anything wrong? I say no. They don’t have a bad stadium now and maybe don’t really need a new one, but the fact that so many counties are clamoring to help fund a stadium worth over 1 billion dollars certainly shows that the demand is there and the stadium could be successful. Also, they are staying in their metro area, despite perhaps moving away from the city (a la the New England Patriots in Foxborough or the Giants and Jets in New Jersey). The Vikings seem to have made a very shrewd business move in a market that loves its football. Not everyone is for the new stadium as some protestors held signs with slogans like: “We Need Housing Not Stadiums.” And of course, the team maintains they lose money with the old stadium, but everyone else is pretty sure they’re making good money (with a significantly less than great team in the last couple years). Other dissenters chanted “Make Zygi Pay”, a shot at owner Zygi Wolf and the funds he wants. I for one think a new stadium is a great idea, especially after the Metrodome’s epic roof collapse last year.