At Capitol, Vikings Owner Wilf Pushes Stadium

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf encourages state lawmakers Thursday to support building a new football stadium and expressed confidence the bill would pass this year.

“We’re confident that we have the parts in place to get this done this session,” Wilf told reporters at the Capitol after several hours of meetings with about a dozen state lawmakers.

Wilf met with sponsors of the bill and at least a few lawmakers who are skeptical of supporting public funding for a stadium in a year where they’re facing widespread cuts in state spending to fix a state budget deficit.

Wilf declined to comment on specific aspects of the bill, which was filed earlier this week. It proposes the state raise roughly a third of the cost, up to $300 million, through statewide sales taxes on sports memorabilia, luxury seats and digital video recorders as well as naming rights, a Vikings-themed lotto game and an income-tax surcharge on NFL players.

The bill does not specify any of several potential Twin Cities sites for the stadium but designates that whatever local government hosts the team would also kick in about a third through local sales taxes. The Vikings would pay the other third of costs, plus any overruns. Wilf would not comment on the suggestion from some state lawmakers that the team’s share should be higher.

“We are committed to a substantial private investment and we will continue to work on that,” Wilf said.

Potential sites discussed so far include the current site of the Metrodome or on property nearby and suburban sites in Hennepin County northwest of Minneapolis or Ramsey County north of St. Paul. Wilf said there are talks underway with several potential local hosts but wouldn’t go into details of those talks or say if there’s a preferred site.

“We have to evaluate what is for the best interest, not so much of the Minnesota Vikings, but what location and what circumstances will get the deal done,” Wilf said. “And we have to make sure we evaluate all the aspects of this both politically and economically.”

The Vikings’ current lease at the Metrodome expires after the upcoming season, and team officials have said after that they’re not willing to play in a venue they say is no longer sufficiently profitable from the team.

That has led some lawmakers and team supporters to worry that failure to build a new stadium could result in the departure from Minnesota of what supportive lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton have called an important state asset. Still, Wilf said he’s had no talks with potential buyers.

The New Jersey-based owner, accompanied by a phalanx of team officials and lobbyists, spoke to a handful of state representatives who ducked out of a House floor session to meet him in a corner of a Capitol hallway outside the state Supreme Court chambers. Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, said he met with Wilf at the request of team lobbyists but didn’t change his mind that a stadium bill shouldn’t be passed until after lawmakers approve a state budget. Lawmakers are tasked this year with erasing a projected $5 billion shortfall between tax collections and pending obligations.

“I’m not voting for a Vikings bill if a budget is not agreed to first,” said Morrow, who also said the current stadium bill’s proposal that the Vikings to pay a third of stadium costs is insufficient.

“I think the team’s share needs to go up, and I’d like to see some participation from the NFL too,” Morrow said.

Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton, represents the legislative district that encompasses the proposed Ramsey County site, said she also told Wilf she’d like to see the team “bring more to the table.”

The bill introduced this week creates a Minnesota Stadium Authority that’s charged with picking a local partner and site for the stadium by February 2012. But several lawmakers said they told Wilf the bill would have a better chance if it specifically designates a stadium site.

“I think it helps a lot of if you know where it’s going to go and who the partners are,” said Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-South St. Paul, who also talked to Wilf.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Skol

    Let’s do this! I don’t have a problem contributing to what would be about $5 out of my pocket in total taxes.

    • Crank

      There will be no tax dollars used…period!

    • ABarber

      He should be pushing for a razor to cut off that horrendous mustache!

  • Big Boy

    Let’s hear it… The states already in a deficit, blah blah blah… Let’s donate more to the people sucking off the govt teet, blah blah blah…

    How about the state will be in a bigger deficit if they leave and we lose all of that extra income to the state through taxes???

    • Cush

      The only people sucking off the state are outsiders who come here and get treatment and room and board waiting for there legal problems to blow over. This and the inability for the upper class to pay a larger portion of the income tax burden which is all but eliminating the middle class. Abuse, waste,fraud and corruption are destroying our system and we continue to take in Africans, Mexicans, Persians ,etc. who do not speak english and demand we adapt to thier culture.

  • Too many years

    Even beter plan: Who about the Vikes trade up in the draft, pick a QB actually worth something, make some off season trades, and ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE TEY CARE ENOUGH TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP! Then maybe I could care more about supporting a new stadium. Until then, they can pound sand.

    • Geoff

      Typical fair-weather Vikings fan. Didn’t they make it to the NFC Championship game two seasons ago? Keep that attitude up and we will be watching the LA Vikings play down the street from the LA Lakers…

      • SO SAD!!!

        And I’ll be there to help them pack!!!

        • hate gay sports

          football is gay and so are the viqueens san fran can have ya

  • Mike D

    they had one bad year!! you can’t base giving a team a stadium off of that. True they have not won any superbowls, but they’ve won more division titles than the Packers and Bears combined. And no Packer fans, I’m not including the days when there were 6 teams in the league. They’ve been in the NFC championship game 3 times since 99. That’s 25% in the last 12 years according to my math.

    • Earthman2020

      One bad year??? Guess your standards for a bad year don’t include all the off field drama this team has incurred as well. This franchise has been nothing but a total embarassment for this state for quite some time now. And their overall performance on the field over the years should have no bearing on whether or not we use tax payer money to fund what the Vikings actually are, a private business. Are the tax payers going to get any financial benefit from funding this team? Sure maybe a few businesses in and around the new stadium will florish, but ultimately the average Joe Schmoe will end up just paying more tax while getting nothing in return except for a headache from all the drama. Taxpayers need not and should not fund private businesses. Now if the state of MN were to decide to buy the team altogether, then we’d have a different story entirely as the state could then actually generate money which could help lower taxes… but we all know that will never happen. Wilf can pay up or move out. It’s his team, not ours.

  • ksaunde

    Sorry Zygi, you need more skin in the game.

  • Pate

    He pay for it himself.

  • chuckster

    build it already, just don’t cut corners (i.e. metrodome)

    • travis

      ha. that really was funny… Thank you.

  • Trimom

    What parallel universe are these people living in where we are even talking about something this frivolous when people are out of work, losing jobs and homes. The economic fuzzy math associated with this project is ridiculous. Why should people who can’t even afford tickets to a game bear the burden of making life better for out of touch millionaires? I’m all about free enterprise but let private industry pay for these shenanigans. Rome burned while Nero fiddled. We need to quit worrying about a stadium and work on turning this country’s economy around!!

    • Newhaven

      I agree-we need to take care of ourselves before we contribute to those making a ton of $$. I understand the income that the stadium would bring, but at what cost? This is a private industry, why should the government and taxes be involved?

    • Sandy

      Could not have said it better myself Trimom! Sadley those that want it slammed down our throat and done, don’t pay attention.

  • No public money for Ziggy!!!

    Right on Trimom. All this pure garbage of “the majority wants to pay for a new stadium” is nothing but hype. I don’t want one cent of my tax dollars to go towards a Vikings stadium … but … if there was a state-wide vote on the issue, I would accept the majority decision.

    The problem is, our crooked politicians will never let that happen and all of us will have this shoved down our throats. State Sen. Thompson is, so far, the only politician I know of who has the guts to say “no” to this injustice.

    • Travis

      What doesn’t make sense is when people say that we need to turn the economy around… and the way we do that is by pulling money out of the economy… by quitting investing in anything. South Park did an episode about this… not sure if that really helps my argument, but there you go.

      • Sandy

        Travis, if the team and dome are bringing in so much dough now – where the H is the money and why are we cutting everything left and right as it is? Why do the streets within the City of Minneapolis barely get plowed? Give me a damn break – this is not a stimulator of the economy!

  • Ziggy should be ashamed of himself

    Do you listen to the news? The NFL is fighting over how to spend their $9 BILLION in profits! Yet the rich Ziggy Wilf comes to the state capitol with his hands all ready to dig into the MN taxpayer’s pockets.

    Too bad, Ziggy, I have children to feed, clothe, educate and take care of. You already have your millions of dollars, why do you feel the great need to take the few hundred that I have? You should be ashamed to be asking me for money!

    I’m lucky to have a job today and I can’t afford tickets to take my family to your team’s games anyway – so why should I have to help pay for their stadium? You don’t help pay for my family’s grocery bill!

    • Ginger Shepla

      I’m with you. Pay for your own stuff and stop demanding that I have to pay for your stuff as well. Anyone that benefits can chip in as well. I will never see any benfit from this and will only loose money if they do end up pushing this down our throats, which I’m sure they will.

    • John

      I didn’t know ziggy was knocking on your door and steeling your mac and cheese. I understand working families not wanting to pay more in taxes… but that hasn’t been proposed. When the built the twins stadium, nobody outside of Hennipen Co. paid a dime more in taxes. This proposal seems like taxes would be on sports memorabilia, on players making millions, and on anybody who chooses to do anything knowing that there taxes are going toward a stadium. Nobody is proposing raising taxes on your groceries, gas, or any other fundementals. If you are a vikings fan, you may have to pay some more taxes if you buy a jersey. If you aren’t a fan and stay out of sports, this probably won’t impact your life… other than improving the area in which you live

  • Jeff

    Build it, and the jobs will come.

    • Paula

      Time to move to California with your Vikqueens Ziggy and take your billions of dollars with you.

    • Cindy

      What will happen to those employed by the dome Jeff? How many jobs exactly would come our way? Would we use workers from MN or would we use the cheapest bidder like the bridge?

  • Wilf puts his wants before Taxpayers' needs

    The storyline of this news item should read “Rich man comes to state capitol to ask the legislature to tax the poor people in order to build the rich man’s family a new home.”

    Wilf is putting his WANTS ahead of the MN taxpayers’ NEEDS.

  • Joe Mauer

    All the naysayers, SHUTUP!!

    • Drop Kick

      Mauer, put your cup where your mouth is. Mauer, Ha, Ha, Ha.

  • Specter

    I wish people would educate themselves on how the stadium is actually proposed to be funded by and understand the concept before griping.

    • Earthman2020

      Taxpayers need not and should not fund private business, enough said.

      • MLL


  • Vikings Owner Wilf Pushes Stadium At State Capitol

    […] […]

  • iggy

    We probably shouldn’t fuss about sports. In the big scheme of things there are much bigger fish to fry. Suppose I could get $300 Mil so I can house and feed some homeless? Maybe even some money for these atrocious roads we have cooking? Oh well, big business wins again… while the real problems go unacknowledged again.

    • travis

      Where would the state get money if we didn’t have attractions and a destination for people to willingly blow through money? more taxes on everyone else? Not to mention the amount of millionaire player and coaches saleries that are taxable. do we want to see that income leave as well. Where do we come up with the money for those soon to be missing funds? Believe me, I have a pot whole outside my house that I have to avoid daily. I think that it should be fixed. However, I don’t associate having that pot whole with the state increasing targeted taxes to raise funds for a stadium.

      • travis

        my gosh… i mean ‘pot hole’

  • RIII

    Minneapolis should just take all the profit they make from the Twins stadium, Target center and the Dome and use it to build a football stadium.

  • Justin

    Alright think about this:

    So to all of those of you who can’t stand the thought of POSSIBLY paying funds that would go to something you don’t want(aka vikings stadium).
    Do you realize that every day you are paying for things that you don’t want to be paying for? take for example unemployment. I really cannot stand the fact that money out of my pay checks goes to this messed up society that continually is able to collect unemployment and sit on their butts not even looking for jobs more several months. this money is just handed to them and we get nothing back from it. at least with a stadium the state can get some money back

    • Tiger

      You’re smoking something.

    • Chris K

      Unemployment comes out of employer funds, not your paycheck

      • Joe Z

        I agree. Sure Tiger and Chris K. Let’s all act like all of our taxes go to everything that we want and none to things we don’t want. If you need to believe that to help yourself sleep at night, well then alright. I’m sorry you are so ignorant and uneducated.

        And seriously though, these are supposed to be positive articles about a possible stadium, why do all the haters have to come on here instantly and just gripe day after day and they clearly don’t read the article because as several have even pointed out AS DOES THE ARTICLE, taxes won’t be raised. READ FIRST instead of scrolling to the bottom to leave a comment saying “I hate zygi and will never fund him”
        get over yourselves

        • Earthman2020

          “…It proposes the state raise roughly a third of the cost, up to $300 million, through statewide sales taxes on sports memorabilia, luxury seats and digital video recorders as well as naming rights, a Vikings-themed lotto game and an income-tax surcharge on NFL players…”

          Joe Z – what part of “statewide sales taxes” don’t you understand?

          Taxpayers constantly pay for things they don’t agree with – true, however, the Vikings are a private business. Taxpayers need not and should not be funding private businesses, enough said.

          • Trimom

            ….and let’s not even talk about the taxpayer dollars that have already been wasted on this with time and expenses of the elected officials and state paid workers. If one dime of public money goes to something like a stadium it’s one dime too many along with all the other un-constitutional spending that goes on. The players and owners and the NFL Ned to establish a fund that is mandatorily funded by their enormous income and fund these stadiums. If the return on the dollar was going to be so incredible, trust me… Private industry would have already funded it. Government doesn’t need to subsidize a successful business model.

  • democrat for life

    The Lakers were first, then here comes the….


  • Curtis

    Hi, I’m super rich and live in Minnesota. I want to build a real expensive house and make you guys pay for it. I’m only gonna use it 8 days every year. And when someone else uses it I’m gonna charge them a whole lotta money and profit heavily from it. Sound like a good deal?

    Thats what I thought.

    • The Crux of the Biscuit

      Send Ziggy a check for 25,000 dollars, you can start a new stadium fund.

  • Louie

    I pay taxes, I am a VIKINGS fan, I want a new stadium. Those who can’t afford tickets maybe is time to get off the couch and go find a job, there is plenty of them out there.

    • Swamp Rat

      Sounds like you are working. Jobs are scarce no matter what the reports say. Your Vikings fanaticism is apparent but how do you build a stadium in the political and economic climates we have today?

      Here’s a solution, have your pal Zyggi commit to a temporary Dome lease extension of 5 years. This will allow the state to recover and balance the budget into the healthy black ink. Then, in the meantime have Zyggi get with the Metro Sports Commission[MSC] chose a site, help develop site plans, commit to and sign a 40+ year lease agreement, work out monetary arrangements, and let the MSC and state of Minnesota maintain ownership and booking rights for a 365 facilities venue. In the end the Vikings make money and the stadium venue contributes to state and local coffers.

      Now fanatical Vikings fan how does that sound???

  • MSquare

    Seriously, we’re cutting funds for people who don’t have enough to eat, who can’t get health care, and there’s a 5 billion deficit and we’re going to spend public funds on this?


    Welfare for billionares!! All of us that have any backbone MUST stand up and protest this corruption. If these a””holes somehow find a way to hijack the government I for one will have lost all faith in the United States. Right now they are planning on cutting help to poor and middle class citizens because of the deficit, and this cheap a*s billionaire is about to leach hundreds of millions for himself solely because he has enough money to lobby and corrupt politicians. F*** YOU ZIGI WILF, PAY FOR YOUR OWN PRIVATE BUSINESS NEEDS WITH YOUR OWN DISGUSTING PROFITS!! OR GET OUT OF OUR STATE!!

    • Quit Whining

      Take some valium. Drink some Minnesota Whine. And deal with it.

  • The Crux of the Biscuit

    To all you ‘it won’t use tax money’ people that can’t read, Ziggy says straight out one third of the cost comes from a sales tax the hosting city/county would have to impose on it’s residents. Lets build the thing in Eden Prairie and let those people pay the extra sales taxes.

    • No room

      I don’t think there is any room in Eden Prairie to build a stadium.

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