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Stadium Update – Just The Facts

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 24, 2011 – 2:41 pm

Click here to watch an interview with Vikings VP of Public Affairs/Stadium Development Lester Bagley regarding a status update on the stadium issue in Minnesota.

The stadium situation in Minnesota has been a constant topic of conversation over the last couple of months and ultimately took center stage when Ramsey County announced on May 10 that it had reached an agreement to partner with the Vikings to build a stadium in Arden Hills. Since then, though, the 2010-11 Minnesota Legislative Session ended without a solution to the long-standing stadium issue.

Following the Vikings/Ramsey County announcement on May 10, the proposal has rightfully undergone scrutiny from State leaders, the public and the media. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune alone, no less than a dozen – many critical – articles have been published over the last two weeks on the topic.

Public dialogue surrounding the announcement is crucial in order to ensure the stadium decision is right for the State, the team and Vikings fans. However, the daily media coverage has also led to misinformation or a lack of focus on certain elements of the proposal. That being the case, we wanted to take a moment on vikings.com to dissect several provisions of the Vikings/Ramsey County partnership so our fans and supporters fully understand the stadium issue as it moves forward at the State Capitol.

1) Comparison of sites
Some media have tried to make the case for a stadium at the Metrodome site. First, the Vikings have been clear that the Minneapolis proposal is not viable and the team does not support it. The Vikings worked with Ramsey County for nearly a year and delivered what the team was required to do by State leaders: a viable site, a strong local partner, a workable finance plan and significant contributions by both the team and Ramsey County. The Vikings are 100% focused on the Arden Hills location, which is the ideal site for the future of Vikings football and the best site by far for Vikings fans. Creating a Vikings destination in Arden Hills will bring back tailgating and will create a tremendous game day experience for fans.

2) Ownership of the stadium
The stadium will be publicly-owned and a new Minnesota Stadium Authority (MSA) will oversee the facility and will protect the public’s interest. The MSA will consist of five members – two appointed by the Governor, two appointed by the Ramsey County Board, including the chair, and one appointed by the City of Arden Hills. The MSA will ensure that the facility will host high school and amateur sports, community and civic events and all of the public events that are currently held at the Metrodome.

3) Operating expenses vs. revenues
One of the criticisms of new stadiums around the country is that it’s not just the public covering a portion of debt service, but also covering a significant portion of operating expenses that could range from $14-18 million annually. That criticism does not apply with the Ramsey County-Vikings agreement. Similar to the Minnesota Twins-Hennepin County arrangement, the current partnership between Ramsey County and the Vikings calls for the team to operate the retractable-roof stadium, pay over 90% of the operating expenses, and receive the revenues from the year-round events to help offset those operating costs. While some believe the Vikings stand to gain more revenue from this arrangement, the reality is that the annual operating expenses ($14-18 million) of the facility outweigh the revenues the other events provide.

4) Project cost savings
First, it is extremely unlikely that the construction budget will be reduced. This is an accurate and realistic assessment of the costs of building a multi-use facility that meets the requirements of the public and the team in Arden Hills. The Vikings have agreed to put $407 million, or 39% of the total costs, into the project, while the County has committed $350 million. This provision of the agreement regarding the first $41 million in cost savings was designed so the team would contribute tens of millions more up front than the County; however, as previously stated, a reduced stadium budget is very unlikely.

5) Personal seat licenses (PSLs)
The Vikings have not yet decided whether to pursue personal seat licenses (PSLs) in a new stadium. Regardless, should PSLs be pursued, the team does not anticipate the market contributing anywhere near $125 million, but in respect to the County, the Vikings agreed to put this language in the agreement to protect the public’s commitment. In essence, the provision says if the team raises over $125 million in PSLs, such excess will go back to offset the County’s costs on various items.

Thanks go to Vikings Assistant Director of Public Affairs Jeff Anderson for taking the time to provide information for this update.


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Owners Unanimously Pass Rules Regarding Player Safety

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 24, 2011 – 10:05 am

The NFL’s labor situation has put most non-courtroom football news to rest for the past few months, but today we actually have some on-field football news to report, thanks to the NFL Owners’ meetings that are going on this week in Indianapolis.

According to this article by Albert Breer of NFL.com, NFL owners approved unanimously on Tuesday rules changes that regard player safety. We’ll do our best to breakdown the new rules changes right here but we also expect more clarification to come out in the hours and days ahead. None of these changes are necessarily drastic in terms of how they’ll impact the product on the field, but they are significant changes in that they protect players from harm.

The first change expands the definition of “defenseless player” in the “unnecessary contact” rules, Breer writes. The following types of players will now be considered defenseless: a receiver who “has not clearly become a runner,” a kicker or punter during a return, a QB following a change of possession, as well as a player who takes a blindside block from an opponent “moving toward his own endline” and approaches from the back or side.

The second change relates to the NFL’s “launching” rules, which will now include players who leave both “prior to contact to spring forward and upward,” and a player who “uses any part of his helmet.”

The third change is one I think both defensive players and coaches as well as fans will appreciate. It adjusts the rules prohibiting blows to the head of the QB, specifically making accidental “grazing” a judgment call for officials, rather than an automatic foul.


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