At least a couple of Minnesota lawmakers feel Minnesota might want to rethink the deal it gave the Vikings in light of the deal struck with Atlanta and the Falcons. The Falcons are putting an estimated $800 million into their new $1 billion stadium, compared to the Vikings $477 million contribution. (Minneapolis is putting in $150 miillion and the state is putting in $348 million.)
"It's hard to be right," says state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, (R, Lino Lakes) who complained last year that the state wasn't driving a hard enough stadium bargain. "It's frustrating that we lost that battle. People may realize that sometimes that when we talk, we tell the truth."
In the tentative Falcons deal, Atlanta is kicking in more than Minneapolis:$200 million of the $1 billion project with a hotel/motel tax. There's no state contribution from Georgia. Media reports indicate the team is also on the hook for cost overruns, up to $50 million in infrastructure costs and possibly remaining debt on the Georgia Dome. The AP reports that Blank's private foundation and the city of Atlanta would pay $15 million each for improvement to the surrounding neighborhood. it isn't clear if they've asked for the NFL's new stadium financing funding yet.
Like Minneapolis, plans call for construction to start adjacent to the city's existing stadium, which will be torn down when the Falcons are done playing there.
"Typically when an appropriation is made by Legislature, money is spent that can be changed, restructured," Thompson told KSTP last night. "So I'm assuming there are some things we could do to change the terms of the deal." He voted against the Vikings bill when it came through the Senate last year, by the way.
The Vikings see things a little differently, as you might expect. "We're not interested in renegotiating this deal," Vikings VP Lester Bagley said today.
"We negotiated an agreement with the state, and with party leaders on both sides of aisle. We think its a fair deal, and not only is it a significant private contribution in Minnesota, its also the highest rent in the NFL. So it is a fair deal. It took almost two years to get there, so we're moving forward to build a new stadium."
The Vikings ARE on the hook for about $11 million a year more in rent, if AP's estimate of $2.5 million in annual rent for the Falcons is accurate. Over 30 years, that would certainly make the two deals more comparable.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, echoed Bagley's sentiment. A key player in the stadium bill negotiations last year, she said she doesn't think there's much appetite to revisit the issue.
"The people I've talked to feel like so many years and work had gone into that negotiation, that the deal that was put together, like I mentioned was fair on both sides," Kelm-Helgen said this morning. "And I don't see people really looking at it in any kind of detail to do anything different. I'd be really suprised if they would do that."
And, of course, the deal announced yesterday may not be the last word in Atlanta. The Vikings had a deal with Anoka County in 2006, and with Ramsey County in 2011 -- both eventually fell through.