Vikings Stadium Financing Finally Gets Fans Involved #wilfare

The StarTribune reports on the possibility that the Wilfs will hit up fans for cash through personal seat licenses at the new stadium:

Faced with the need to make a nearly half-billion dollar contribution to build their new downtown football stadium, the Minnesota Vikings may tap their most loyal fans to help foot the bill.

That’s a generous way to describe it. Another way would be:

“After extracting $498 million out of the State of Minnesota and City of Minneapolis toward a new $975 million stadium, the Wilfs are now turning to Vikings fans in order to drive the Vikings organization’s costs as close to zero as possible.”

Or, as Bob Collins put it:

A fan weighed in on the Wilf family’s interest in using a combination of corporate welfare plus extracting what the market will bear for PSAs:

“It’s disgusting,” said Stephanie Schleuder, who figures a fee could cost her as much as $20,000 to keep two 50-yard-line seats. “If they weren’t getting any public financing, if they were doing this on their own, they would have a right to do whatever they want. How dare they further gouge the average fan for additional money.”

Personally, what I found disgusting is that not a single Vikings season ticket holder testified at any of the state or city hearings to describe the half a billion in public financing (not counting interest or ongoing operational costs) as “disgusting”. The “average fan” (especially if you’re using the term “average” to describe people who have tickets on the 50-yard-line) has not been “gouged” by the current financing.

If Vikings fans are looking for someone to blame for this, they could look at themselves. Do you remember Vikings fans testifying in front of the legislature to have a no-PSA policy written into the stadium bill? No? Exactly. The legislature gave them what they wanted: A stadium in a non-ideal location with a non-ideal public/private split, no guarantee of a Super Bowl (Indy wrote it into their contract), no guarantee of a retractable roof, and no protection from PSA licenses. Vikings fans cheered when they got this deal. Oh well.

“How many average citizens who own season tickets can afford a fee like that?” she said. “What’s going to happen is, it’s going to be all these wealthy business people who snap those up and the average fan is out of luck. And that just doesn’t seem right to me.”

Again, using the term “average citizens” to describe people who own Vikings season tickets is quite the reach. Tickets are already priced above what an average family can afford. Especially if we’re talking season tickets. Even more so if we’re talking 50-yard-line.

And, as people who paid attention to what Wilf was looking for in a new stadium know, the “wealthy business people” are exactly who this new stadium is being built for . . . with your money. The new stadium is designed to have more and higher quality suites for “wealthy business people”. The Vikings don’t have to share the money from suites with the rest of the NFL, so they benefit from having as much money as possible dumped into suites by local corporations (who’ll then deduct the costs as an entertainment expense, shifting our tax burden to non-suite holders).

The public is also paying for an awesome new parking ramp adjacent to the stadium that will allow “wealthy business people” to park walk to their suites without having to mingle with “average citizens”.

Our tax dollars at work.

One thing I haven’t heard much about lately: What about the buy-a-brick plan? I’m pretty sure the final bill includes a brick purchasing program as a financing source. Let’s get that rolling so Vikings fans can start showing their support for the Wilf family’s wealth.

11 thoughts on “Vikings Stadium Financing Finally Gets Fans Involved #wilfare”

  1. Well Ed, what can be said to Vikings fans other than bend over and take it.

    This is exactly what we were telling them to expect last year during your blogging on this issue.
    –Tried to warn them,
    –tried to inform them so at least they could demand a better deal,
    –tried to educate them of the NFL’s nationally proven over decades of increasingly invasive schemes and tactics, so they could make better choices and maybe would tell the NFL what to do with their extractive game.

    Exactly all that you warned them about has come to pass, almost to the exact word. The old saying is “Forewarned is forearmed”…and now Vikings fans and Minnesotan citizens can feel that forearm coming right into their face.

    But this comment isn’t schadenfreude or ‘told you so’…rather this is a warning to the next pro sports community to get your act together.

    Taxes aren’t the only way to extract money from your dwindling pocketbook–lets list quickly 3 other invasive species–
    –Politics,
    –Religion, and/or
    –Sports…
    And the most extractive businesses combine 2-3 of these together…like the NFL has done.

    Vikings, even when they win…you lose. I know what I’d do if I had a Vikings brick.

  2. Why is Bob Collins as well as the Other Mike acting as if this a done deal? It’s nowhere close to that. You wanna stick it to the season ticket holder, don’t you Mike and Ed? Just stick it to them with big old stick. You might not even know a season ticket holder.

    You are bitter men. Bitter. Men.

    “Bagley, meanwhile, stressed nothing has been decided.”

    and….

    “Again,” he said, “we’re not announcing a program, we’re doing a survey. We do surveys all the time.”

    See, they do surveys all the time. This is 2012. Can you throw a rock in any direction without hitting someone wants you to take a survey?

  3. The stadium deal is done of course, Mike. It’s going to get built. Maybe that bears repeating. The Vikings stadium is going to get built.

    This story ended up in the Sunday edition, right hand column above the fold. They don’t pay The Rat to edit the Strib but it seemed odd placement, when there’s lots of important news taking place.

    The PSL’s PROPOSED appear to be some kind of value-added package that a season ticket holder can elect to take or not. I don’t know why Ms. Schleuder feels particularly galled by what is basically a survey question from the Vikings; and a deal she could walk away from at any time. A few more points of view may have rounded out the story a little better.

  4. Well there isn’t one right now, which is why I put proposed in all uppercase. It’s a significant detail that doesn’t seem to be entirely understood. The story pointed out two other instances where the a similar package was promoted. In those cases it must have been valued by someone. It’s not entirely “more for the same.” It granted certain access in exchange for the money. If it’s “more for the same” its true that better seating costs more money.

  5. @The Other Mike:
    “rather this is a warning to the next pro sports community to get your act together.”

    We here in Santa Clara warned all of you, but people didn’t pay attention to what’s happening here. The 49ers were completely silent during the stadium ballot measure campaign (Measure J June 2010) regarding personal seat license fees. They called them ‘stadium builders licenses’ and there were no prices given and information about how much money was to be raised from those fees was kept off of the ballot.

    Then 18 months after people voted yes (after the 49ers spent $5 million on their ad campaign), the contract came back – $950 million in loans for our city’s agency the Stadium Authority -loans which were not on the ballot. And big seat license fees for season ticket holders. Many long time season ticket holders have let their tickets go rather than pay $20,000 to $80,000 per seat license (there are less expensive seat licenses but the 20 to 80 K range is what they started advertising.) Many fans have complained in the press that there’s no loyalty to long time fans.

    Yet during the stadium campaign these same fans helped the 49ers win the ballot measure because they didn’t know that the 49ers would turn around and stick the fans with the seat license fees.

    Our grassroots group here, Santa Clara Plays Fair, tried to warn them, but the fans weren’t listening. Too many people don’t read, and just believe the hype put out by the NFL teams’ press releases.

    Visit santaclaraplaysfair.org and read the article on How the 49ers Won the Stadium Ballot Measure.

  6. If there’s enough of a pushback, it may not happen.

    “Bagley, meanwhile, stressed nothing has been decided.”

    and….

    “Again,” he said, “we’re not announcing a program, we’re doing a survey. We do surveys all the time.”

  7. @Rat, I suppose the Vikings, after watching the 49ers sell more than $300 million in PSLs this year, could decide to skip out on that revenue opportunity. That’s certainly a possibility. A very very faint possibility.

  8. @Ed – We who live in Santa Clara have received only press releases about the PSL sales here. No hard data. We remain skeptical about the PSL sales. There have been plenty of news reports in which long time season ticket holders have been interviewed and said that there’s no way they will buy PSLs. Right now, no one knows what is true and what is hype. And the people who do buy PSLs will be in for a shock when the stadium opens and they see just how bad the traffic and parking situation will be. They should have read the EIR instead of just listening to press release promises.

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