The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 26, 2013

Our View:

Why It Matters: One key issue left on the Vikings stadium deal is how much the team can charge season ticket holders for the right to buy their tickets.

It’s the negotiating equivalent of the two-minute drill. On Friday the Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission — the public body working on the new Vikings stadium — is scheduled to approve the final deal with the NFL team, thus allowing the bonds to be sold, and so, allowing serious construction to begin

That timeline assumes the financial details are settled.

A lot has emerged in recent weeks on that topic.

It was revealed last week that the experiment with electronic pulltabs — intended to carry the state’s share of the burden — has yielded exactly zero dollars for the stadium project. This is the maximum possible error in the projection, from $35 million in the first year to zilch, and it should embarrass Gov. Mark Dayton, who bought into the optimism.

A judge in New Jersey on Monday socked the Vikings owners with more than $84 million in fines and damages in a long-running lawsuit in which the Wilfs (brothers Zygi and Mark and a cousin) were held to have committed civil fraud. The Wilfs promise an appeal; considering that the original lawsuit dragged out some 20 years, the stadium figures to be open for business long before the Wilfs ever disgorge any of that $84 million.

The verdict prompted a much-ballyhooed audit of the Wilfs’ enterprises by the stadium commission, which concluded that the Wilfs still have the financial wherewithal to meet their stadium commitments. Which is no real surprise because it has become increasingly obvious that the Wilfs are not committing much if any of their own money to the project.

Their share is supposed to be $477 million. But $200 million will come from the NFL, and the naming rights to the edifice are expected to yield something in excess of $100 million. And the rest may well come from dunning season ticket holders thousands of dollars for “personal seat licenses.”

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