Newspaper article

By National Standards, This Stadium Deal Is Better Than Most

Newspaper article

By National Standards, This Stadium Deal Is Better Than Most

Article excerpt

Not so fast.

Just as the big green and yellow bus was pulling up to the State Capital inviting Minnesota's football fans to hop aboard and get fitted for their cheese-wedge hats; just as Vikings players were dreaming about palm trees, glamour and the rich endorsement deals awaiting them in sunny California; and just as Zygi Wilf was drooling over the mega-sized check he'd pocket for selling his team to the LA fat cats (the Dodgers just sold for $2.15 billion), the Minnesota House threw a wet blanket over the party by passing a stadium bill.

Now, after Monday night's surprise, the state Senate is plotting its strategy. It's hard not to conclude that a new stadium has surprising momentum after a near-death experience a few weeks back.

For added drama, the House bill trims $105 million off the state's cost for a projected $975 million project and adds it to the Vikings' tab.

That was a deft maneuver. It pushes the Wilfs' share of stadium construction costs to above the 50 percent threshold, a magic number in the public's mind; and it makes the Vikings a clear villain if they decide to reject the offer and depart.

Until Monday night, Zygi was holding all the cards. If a new stadium were to pass, he'd win. If a new stadium were to fail, he'd still win if he sold the team for big bucks - and a lot of people wouldn't have blamed him for selling after so many years of stadium battles. But now it's more complicated for him.

Public-private costs

The central issue in the stadium wars has always been public- private cost share. In a perfect world, the teams would pay all stadium costs. Unfortunately we don't live in that world. The national market for NFL stadiums has determined that, on average, the public pays about 65 percent, although the share varies widely from city to city.

In general, team owners in larger, wealthier markets (New York, Boston, Miami, Washington, D. …

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