Businesses that rely on the Vikings home games are going to feel the pinch of the team's excursion to the United Kingdom, says the Strib's Mike Kaszuba. The Vikings are playing the Steelers in London on Sunday. A story today details some of the losses, as well as some of the "meh," as the team skips one of its 10 scheduled home games.
Last November, Gov. Mark Dayton decried the relocation in a letter to the team:
First, the team announced that it would play a 2013 "home game" in London, which, it was claimed, should not count against the limit of three such games every fifteen years, because the final agreement had not been signed.
After my strong objection, I was told the team verbally agreed that a 2013 London game would count as one of the three overseas games during the first fifteen years of the project. Soon thereafter, the team expressed its desire to play a second "home game" overseas in the near future and extolled the virtues of doing so.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Vikings are supposed to be working together to build a new $975 million dollar stadium. It would be far more helpful, if the Vikings focused public attention on the desire to play home games there, rather than elsewhere.
The stadium bill requires the Vikings to play all their home games in the new facility, but allows them three away games, outside the United States, in the first 15 years of their 30 year lease, and three more for the second half of their lease. That allows the team to skip town on a maximum of 2 percent of their home games in the new stadium.
Back in Minnesota and Watchdog.org's Minnesota Bureau, Minnesota Freedom Foundation's investigative director Tom Steward has a piece on Mary Liz Holberg's effort to shed a little light on what have been the opaque finances of the stadium deal. She wants to repeal an exemption keeping the team's books private, and reveal their finances if they want taxpayer help, and introduced a bill to do so in this month's special legislative session.
The financial information provided by the Vikings is shielded in the stadium law law signed last year. Here's the relevant language:
Subd. 6. Enforceable financial commitments. The authority must determine before stadium construction begins that all public and private funding sources for construction, operating expenses, and capital improvements and repairs of the stadium are included in written agreements. The committed funds must be adequate to design, construct, furnish, and equip the stadium, and pay projected operating expenses and the costs of capital improvements and repairs during the term of the lease or use agreement with the NFL team. The NFL team must provide the authority access to NFL team financial or other information, which the authority deems necessary for such determination. Any financial information obtained by the authority under this subdivision is nonpublic data under section 13.02, subdivision 9.
And finally, the Minneapolis-based Welfare Rights Committee is planning a protest this morning in front of the Governor's mansion. They say the Dayton administration should be helping the poor, not millionaire sports team owners from New Jersey. Here's an excerpt from the WRC release announcing the protest:
The monthly amount of cash MFIP (MN’s welfare program for poor children and their parents) has not increased since 1986 - 27 years ago. Had the cash welfare grants kept up with the cost of living, they would be double. A family of two (parent and one child) gets a cash grant of $437 per month. That $437 has to cover rent, clothing, transportation, utilities etc. The current welfare grants all but guarantee homelessness.
Look for more coverage on Stadium Watch later today.