Without a suitable stadium solution for the Vikings within the next two years, Minnesota may find itself without a professional football team.
Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf were straight to the point Wednesday when they rejected a proposal to extend their lease at the Metrodome for two years beyond the 2011 season.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission had proposed giving the team all post-season revenues if the team would extend its current lease at the Metrodome two more years. If the team rejected the offer, the Vikings would have to pay $4 million a year in rent, which the commission had waived since 2002.
Needless to say, the Vikings are not happy with this proposal.
Minnesota leaders -- starting with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, legislative leaders and Minneapolis city and business leaders -- need to find a workable and financially feasible solution to meet the Vikings' stadium needs.
The Vikings are a positive asset to the Minnesota community. They have been a longtime fan favorite throughout the state. In addition, the team generates more than $26 million per year in tax revenue to state and local governments.
Needless to say, this will be a tough time to find that solution as the state faces a multibillion-dollar budget deficit as well as a 2010 election with a governor's race. Yet, if the Vikings leave, there will be a loss of $26 million in tax revenue to Minneapolis and the state.
There are positive sides on the stadium front:
- A downtown Minneapolis business group effort has been formed to work on a Vikings stadium solution. A similar group helped make the new Twins stadium a reality.
- A new Sports Facilities Commission study due in December will look again at building a new facility at the current Metrodome site. Cost estimates are expected to be lower than the earlier study.
- The University of Minnesota will consider allowing the Vikings to play at TCF Stadium on an interim basis if and when a new Vikings stadium is built.
It is important that the Vikings stadium needs be addressed in a timely manner. If Minneapolis and state leaders doddle as they did with the North Stars, our region could lose professional football, just as they lost professional hockey in 1993.
We encourage all involved to find a workable and financially sensible stadium solution for the Minnesota Vikings.