The Vikings and Minnesota have struck a 30-year deal for a new stadium in Minneapolis, officially sealing a decade-long effort to give the team a new home.
The $975 million project will be paid for jointly: $348 million will come from state taxpayers, $150 million from hospitality taxes in Minneapolis and $477 million from the Vikings.
That will include an expected $125 million that fans will pay on the team's behalf in the form of "stadium builder licenses." Those are personal seat licenses that will give fans permanent rights to their seats for a one-time, upfront fee, averaging $2,500.
Seventy-five percent of the seats in the new stadium will require licenses.
NFL teams typically yield about $150 million per team for those licenses, although some have been much higher: San Francisco fans paid $403 million for seat licenses in the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said the maximum price per license will be $10,000, although she isn't sure the costs will actually run that high. The low could be as low as $5oo.
She also said that buyers can pay for them over three years without interest, and extend their payments with interest, over another five years. The sale is expected to net $100 million toward the construction of the stadium.
The PSLs are a controversial financing practice that has drawn the ire of Gov. Mark Dayton and other state officials. Dayton said that the team originally wanted $154 million from PSLs. Dayton talked about the deal ahead of the MSFA meeting this afternoon:
"I think I can safely assume that for most Minnesotans that this will look like a questionable deal because the economics of professional sports are highly questionable all over this country. We've been dealing with this from the very beginning, that if we want to keep a team in Minnesota, if we want all the jobs this project will provide, if we want to have this as a magnet for further economic development in that blighted part of Minneapolis... that we had to make a deal. We had to get the owners of the team to agree to a deal."
Others, though, thought the state was too ready to help ticket holders in the new stadium.
Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, said fans should be paying more.
"PSL revenues are user fees, paid for by users of the stadium, many of whom have luxury boxes in the middle of the stadium that could pay a lot of money to reduce the taxpayer portion... But I didn't hear anything to suggest that the taxpayer contribution was going to be minimized at all. All I heard was that rich, corporate boxholders, affluent individuals and wealthy businesses might not have to pay as much."
The team will also have an NFL subsidy and the proceeds from naming rights to pay their share.
MSFA chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said that the $200 million in NFL financing provided to the Vikings would include a $50 million "grant," not just a loan. Neither stadium officials nor the Vikings were ready to discuss who might buy the naming rights or what they might pay.
Kelm-Helgen also discussed ticket prices today, acknowledging concerns that a new stadium could hike ticket prices steeply. She told a legislative meeting today that tickets at the new stadium would be "in line" with the current prices, but that neither state law nor the operating agreement cap what the team can charge for tickets.
The team did agree to make 3,250 tickets "affordable" for the stadium. They will be priced at no more than 80 percent of the average price for a single game ticket in the cheapest section of the stadium.
The agreement clears the way for the Vikings to close on the financing for their share of the stadium costs. That's expected about Nov. 1. Kelm-Helgen said that the state plans to pull the trigger on its financing, the first round of an expected $498 million in state bonds, in mid-November.
Ground breaking on the new stadium is also now expected for mid-November. Opening day is expected in the summer of 2016.