It is reported that last year the combined revenues of the 32 NFL teams was $9 billion. That's an average of more than $280 million per team. Despite this whopping revenue, the NFL owners decided to lock out their players rather than negotiate a new contract.
The most popular game in America is bringing in fans by the millions and dollars by the billions; yet in Minnesota, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf wants taxpayers to pay 60 percent of the cost of a new stadium complex.
Why? Greed. Wilf is just another billionaire looking to line his pockets at the taxpayer's expense.
In a recent poll, 62 percent of respondents said the Vikings should continue to play in the Metrodome. Why? Because there is nothing wrong with the Dome for a football game. It was designed as a football facility, and 30 years later it still is a great venue for football.
Are there long lines at the concession stands and bathrooms? Sure, but these are not valid reasons to abandon the place for a new billion-dollar stadium paid for with an additional half-cent sales tax. The only reason Wilf can offer for needing a new stadium is that the Vikings are at the bottom of the league in stadium revenue.
Wilf wants taxpayers to ante up for a new billion-dollar stadium so that he can charge more for tickets and increase the price on beer and hot dogs. If you don't believe this, just go to a baseball game in the new, taxpayer-subsidized Twins ballpark. No longer are professional sports family-friendly -- unless you want to drop a couple of hundred bucks on an outing for a family of four.
The Metrodome is paid for and a month from now will have a brand-new roof, paid for with insurance money. Any homeowner knows that after 30 years it's time to do some updating, not tear the place down and start over. But why, when the mortgage is paid and you have a new roof, would you abandon your home to build a new one? The answer is simple; no one would, if he were in his right mind and using his own money. But since this is the taxpayers' money, Wilf wants a new billion-dollar home for his Vikings.
Remember, the Vikings will have no home after next season. Without a quarterback or a players' contract, they are in no position to demand a new stadium.
Ted Mondale, chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, should be negotiating a new long-term lease for the Vikings at the Dome instead of helping Wilf shop for a new stadium. He is paid to operate the current facility, not advocate for his major tenant to move out. It's time for tough negotiations on an extended Vikings lease at the Metrodome, not capitulation to the Vikings' whining about needing a new place to play.
Minnesota taxpayers have already footed the majority of the cost for the Xcel Center, Target Field and TCF Stadium. It's time to say no to the extortion being attempted by the Wilfs and the NFL. Wilf should be reaching into his own pocket to pay for renovations at the Metrodome, instead of trying to put his hand in the taxpayers' pockets in order to build a new stadium.
Phil Krinkie, who served 16 years in the state Legislature, is president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, which describes its mission as "to represent Minnesotans who believe in limited government, low taxation, local control, free enterprise and the constitutional principles set out by our nation's founders."