ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — For a solid decade, the countdown to the end of the Minnesota Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome has hung like a hammer over the political debate on whether citizens should help pay for a new stadium. That lease is about to expire, but thanks to a confluence of NFL deadlines and Minnesota’s legislative calendar, it’s not looking like the advantage the Vikings might have hoped.

“Let’s address this issue before it becomes a crisis because that’s where we’re headed,” said Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ stadium point man — in 2003. The moment Bagley was predicting back then has arrived, and while there’s a flurry of Capitol activity over the stadium, the team’s immediate prospects for relocating are remote.

Within weeks, the Vikings are likely to be in a position where they must acknowledge the certainty of a 2012 kickoff right back in the Metrodome.

“We believe our lease is expired,” Bagley, still plugging away as the team’s vice president of stadium development, said this week.

On paper, the lease runs through the 2011 season, which ends next Sunday after the Giants meet the Patriots in Indianapolis. But just 10 days after that comes the National Football League’s deadline by which an owner must notify the league of the intention to relocate a team for the next season — a grim prospect that has fueled the rhetoric of Vikings fans and their political allies pushing for stadium money.

While there are cities looking for an NFL franchise, Los Angeles chief among them, hurdles are steep to it happening quickly. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said league executives do not believe two Los Angeles groups vying to build a new stadium and land a franchise are in position to field a team by the ’12 season, and no other cities are even near as far along as that.

“I don’t know of any scenario where they play anywhere else but the Dome in 2012,” said Ted Mondale, whom Gov. Mark Dayton tapped to lead the public board that owns the Metrodome. (Mondale believes a loophole in the team’s lease will keep them there for one more year regardless, but the Vikings disagree with that interpretation. It’s a dispute that may ultimately be irrelevant.)

The Vikings don’t need a new lease to keep playing in the Metrodome — the MinnesotaTwins proved that when their own lease there expired after the 2004 season. Even after that, and perpetual worries the team could relocate, state lawmakers still took two more years before finally approving public funding for a new baseball stadium.

“If they don’t throw you out — which of course they’re not going to do — then the terms of the lease apply even if you don’t have a lease,” said Jerry Bell, the retired former Twins president and a veteran of stadium political fights. The Twins finally moved into Target Field at the start of the 2010 season.

At the Capitol, the Vikings stadium debate has been stuck in a muddle as Dayton and the team’s legislative allies struggle to assemble a proposal that could pass the House and Senate. In recent days, a proposal to tear down the Metrodome and rebuild at the same site has emerged as the flavor of the moment. In that scenario, the Vikings would temporarily move a couple miles to TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, but the expenses forced by such a move make that an “only if absolutely necessary” possibility. And the Metrodome plan has already gotten major pushback by members of the Minneapolis City Council, who have the power to at least gum up the works.

Even if a stadium bill emerges between now and Feb. 15, the Vikings after that date will have lost what’s been an important bargaining chip. “Who knows what might happen when the lease ends” will shift to “See you at the Metrodome in September.” If so, the many lawmakers who don’t share the urgency that team boosters have worked so hard to cultivate will have newfound cover to wait another year or two. Or three.

“We don’t want to rush into this, boxing ourselves in and putting ourselves in a corner,” House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said Friday. Dean said he’s worried that a premature stadium vote might actually fail — potentially putting the state at even greater risk of losing the team.

Bagley refused to speculate what would happen once the relocation deadline has passed. “We’re 100 percent focused on getting a stadium solution,” he said.

Mondale said there’s no real date by which the team must notify their Metrodome landlords that they intend to play their next season there. “Frankly, it’s been the assumption that they will,” he said.

But those who worry the most about the team leaving — Vikings fanatics — take no comfort in knowing they can at least count on a 2012 season in Minnesota.

“What concerns me the most is that Zygi Wilf could say, ‘Fine, you’ve got me for another year — but after that we’re just done with it,'” said Cory Merrifield, who launched the grassroots lobbying group “Without a lease, the Vikings are essentially free agents.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (39)
  1. Brian says:

    Fine by me. Let the Vikings leave. I actually hope they do. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Vikings. LIKE. But I won’t miss them if they go. I’ve got to go to work every Monday morning whether they win, lose, or draw. However, if the Vikings were to leave, it would finally put a much-needed exclamation point to the argument that MN politics are KILLING this state. Staring contests and indecision lead us knowhere. Some high profile “disaster” like the Vikings leaving may be enough to wake MN voters up to the fact that lawmakers care little for their voters.

    1. mordacai says:

      I mostly agree with you. MN has no business being in the stadium business. There’s not much point in rehashing all the reasons why that’s a bad deal for MN but I think there are three major timing issues at work here.

      One, Zygi really has been an arrogant bully about this. Lester Bagley is probably the least likeable point man that Zygi could have selected. In that respect, Zygi has pounded the begging drum too long, too loud, and too far and he’s simply worn out his welcome here. People like Rybak, blatantly stating that there will be no referendum and to heck with what the law says, Ortega and Bennett blatantly telling Ramsey county residents that they aren’t going to have a say in the matter, Dayton setting one meaningless deadline after another and flip flopping on a site preference every time he blinks — all this adds up to very poor public relations and it enrages John and Jane Doe to no end.

      Two, if you pay any attention at all to current events, the global economy just plain sucks. The “fan”aticks keep trying to brush it off and minimize that fact. It’s not going to go away because they chose to stick their heads in the sand. The terrible economy is not new news and it’s not going to be “fixed” in the near future. So, now is probably the worst time in modern history for anyone to be begging for public funding, especially for a “want” -vs- a genuine “need.”

      And three, people are sick of government running their lives, they’re sick of politics and politicians, they don’t trust their leadership (rightly so), and most people are struggling financially right now so adding to their financial burden just does not play well for them. Why should they tighten their belts when the main person trying to get their money flaunts his lifestyle of private jets, expensive condos, etc. but demands they pay for his “additional (and exorbitant) profits?”

      And there’s one other major factor involved – also something the “fan”aticks desperately try to sweep under the rug – the Vikings suck as bad as the economy. Come on, 51 years without a Super Bowl win. Pretty much everything about the team is negative and nobody hears Zygi telling anyone how he’s going to build a “world class team” to put in the “world class stadium” that he wants; he’s devoted all his time and energy into trying to get the largest amount of public funds ever taken from the Minnesota taxpayers.

      Minnesota needs to belly up to the bar and tell Zygi “no public funds.” And if the legislature decides to expand gaming, which would be a huge social mistake, any additional revenue from that needs to go towards “PUBLIC” need, paying back borrowed education funds, roads, bridges, the U of M, etc., not any private business.

      1. See You In LA, Vikes says:

        – from a recovering vikoholic

      2. Andrew Kutnink says:

        I almost agree in every point you said. Almost. One thing that I disagree with you saying that the state needs to take money for hte possible gambling and put it towards the U of M? Really? The U of M already gets money from the state than non-stop raises tuition. How about stop giving out multi-million dollar contracts to coaches and huge pay raises to teachers and stop taking state money. I dont want my taxes to pay for teachers salaries unless its a high/junior/middle school type of school. That is just wrong that I have to pay a portion of a teachers salary thats earning 200k/yr. I dont care what that teacher had to go through to get into teaching. I also could care less if the Vikes leave, I sat there for 7 years in the Army waiting to have the chance to watch them full time and will hate to see them go, but to have money spent by us to make their stadium is not hte way to go, the NFL made how much last year and the owners get what, 50% of the income, that shold be more than enough to get his own loan to make a stadium and pay it off himself over hte years. I dont care if the Vikes have won the big one, the Twins arent perfect themselves, they won 2 titles in how many years and havent won one in how long? Its the same old saying, What have you done for us lately? If I have to spend some of my money to help them stay here, I guess I could spare some change to do that, the taxes we would get taken out would hardly be noticable, it wont break the bank, but most of hte money should be taken out as a loan by Zygi, why the state hasnt pushed that is beyond me.

        1. Sam says:

          Once we fund education, health care and roads, I still will be apposed to giving a dime to rich sports owners.

    2. Matt Holmes says:

      I blew 2 guys I met on Craigslist after a Vikings game 2 years ago

  2. mark says:

    I just LOVE how these politicians keep saying- we don’t want to rush this……It’s been 10 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the costs keep going up EVERY year- they say they want to be financially responsible- where does this fit into that pledge?!?!?!?

    1. richard says:

      RIGHT ON MARK I guess 10 years isn’t enough time. How would like to fight a war these guys in charge

      1. James says:

        I agree saving money is the most important thing.


        That will save the maximum amount of money.

        There are no economic benefits to taxpayer subsidized stadiums. Anyone who tells you different is lying. When scam artists are trying to take your money, often they will lie.


        1. Gordon says:

          Jill,RII,, Betty, and how many other freaky names you have, perhapss you ought to try to expand your point rather than copy and pasting the same thing over and over again under a different name.

          1. Jarad says:

            When people keep lying over and over, others must correct their lies over and over. If you don’t like that, tell the liars to stop lying.

            However, you can educate yourself easily. Google these words:

            Publicly financed stadiums

            1. no win says:

              I prefer to trust our state government to tell us what is up and what is down. Like the argument that we were paid back for the investment in the vikings stadium 5 times over. That means we made 250 million on the 50 million dollar investment in the dome (reference Ted Mondale and the Metropolitan sports commission). Of course you can look at the thousands of part time jobs, the extra money coming into our economy, all the permanent jobs and all the tax money coming in that no longer will if the vikings leave. You also can look at all the construction jobs for three years that will come to this state. Or you could look at all the businesses that will lay people off if the vikings leave, from beer distributorships, to hot dog, hamburger, and bun makers. But of course that is no sweat offf of your brow, since you do not survive off of that one team using the dome 10 days a year….

              1. Enough says:

                You prefer to trust the government? You are clueless.

                If the “investment” in the dome was such a success, why do they need to come back for more money? Where did that money go?

                Answer: They are lying to you.

                Don’t take my word for it. Google the words: publicly financed stadium

                1. Gordon says:

                  @ The Schitzo person with many names. The return on investment was calculated from the income taxes that they projected were paid by the tenants of the dome. to the state. So to answer your question, the money went into the general fund. The metronome was built on the cheap without the amity to modify it.

            2. Gordon says:

              @ Jared, Jill, RII or whatever name you go by. Your comment could be considered funny except that you are doggedly stupid.

        2. keep them here says:

          your out 30 million a year in player tax. over 10 years they are paid for, that is a pretty good investment. way better than a house that takes 30 years to pay off.

          1. you are bad at math says:

            The state and county portions total 700 million. How are you going to pay off that with interest at 30million a year. The 30 number is a far bigger number than what has been put out there before.

  3. Paul Bunyan says:

    There was a column in the Strib about a month ago that said the Vikings were 6th in the league for t.v.ratings

  4. vesta44 says:

    The longer they wait to build a stadium, the more it’s going to cost. And you know if the Vikings leave MN, in a few years, everyone will be screaming that MN needs a football team. It happened with hockey – and they built a new stadium for the new hockey team. Only problem is, once the Vikings are gone, MN won’t be able to get another football team unless they can find one that wants to move here from another city (and what are the odds of that if they don’t have a new stadium in which to play, which is going to cost more than building a new stadium NOW). But go ahead, cut your nose off to spite your face, don’t build the stadium, let the Vikings leave, do without a football team in MN, and then in 3 or 4 or 5 years, you’ll be paying at least 25% more to build that new stadium so you can attract another football team. Logic fail, much?

    1. uncle milton says:

      How about we save around a billion dollars right now and, in 3, 4 or 5 years, we save anoher billion and a quarter?

      How’s that sound?

      Logic fail, much?

    2. Satch says:

      “everyone will be screaming that MN needs a football team. ”

      Only clueless buffoons will be screaming that. Get a life buddy.

    3. Dann P says:

      YES!!! vesta… …your logic fails more than “much;” try, completely. And what happened with the MN North Stars was a different story altogether, than this.
      The State of Minnesota has absolutely NO business being in the Sports Venue business, much less the CASINO business…

      STOP THE GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT in this state!!!

      Zygi and the Vikings could save themselves loads of cash by starting now instead of continually beating the dead horse over the head with his stadium.

      ABSOLUTELY NO taxpayer cash to the Wilfs or Vikings for their new mega Stadium Developement!!!

  5. Vick the Voter says:

    “Let’s address this issue before it becomes a crisis because that’s where we’re headed,” said Lester Bagley,

    Crisis? When Ziggy the Pinhead sells the team, he’s not going to make hundreds of millions of dollars in extra profits courtesy of the taxpayers.

    That’s not a crisis.

  6. Brad says:

    Fine let them leave. Now all you nay-sayers need to do is figure out how to replace the 20 – 30 million a year loss from the general tax fund because of the team leaving. You can keep them or lose them for the same amount of money. Either way tax payers are going to pay.

    1. Gordon says:

      The stadium will cost people tax money at the state level to pay for the stadium, Then there is the additional county taxes. By your arguement, we should be getting rid of them because they cost us more money than they will take in.

      1. Brad says:

        No they bring in approx. 28 milion in tax dollars a year. ( was recorded in the papers).This money will be lost if they leave. The state will have to find a way to make up this money. The argument was already proposed to the legislators to use the taxes the Vikes bring into the state to pay for the stadium. The reasoning was to let the money the state will lose,( if the Vike leave), pay their portion of the costs. They told the Vikes no as that money is accounted for in the general funds. It’s been written about in the papers.
        You are forgetting our state and local governments help businesses all the time. We use tax increment financing (TIF) all the time. There are other sources of help we do to keep busenesses here and to help bring businesses in.
        The Vikes should pay for 1/2 to 3/4 of the cost, but the city,county and state will also make money off of this so they should ante up also.

        1. Gordon says:

          If you are an avid reader of the papers or online you would know that what the Vikings propose to contribute towards the Metrodome site is very little. 150 million from the NFL. The Wilfs consider that part of what they are paying. At Arden Hills they said they would pay up to 400 million oof 1.2 billion. Roughly 1/3. If the Vikings and NFL were to contribute 3/4 of the cost the project would be moving forward.
          In regards to taxes, you are missing quite a bit.
          1. Payment of principal and intrest on 700 million is more than 28 million a year. There is also the expense of the resources to collect the tax.
          2. The added expense of the tickets to raise more mone for the Wilfs will result in less money being spent elsewhere thus cutting other people’s incomes and decreasing spending. The Wilfs tke this profit and spend it whereveer they live.
          3. If there were no Vikings and the money wass spent on other entertainment within the state, there would be income tax from that money. The 28 million does not go completely away. This point is so lost on the “Vikings provide tax money” people. They develop a mental block aboutt that simple fact.

          Be more than happy to give the Wilfs tif funding if they want to build their own stadium. TIF allows business not to pay property taxes on the improvements they make on a property.

    2. Public Scool studint says:

      Is zat u mayhor Ryhack?

    3. Frank Talk says:

      That is completely incorrect:

      Publicly Financed Stadiums Actually Drag Down Local Economies


      Are you a paid shill for the Zygi?

  7. glen t says:

    Where are Wilfs A, B and C plans for a stadium? His lack of planning does make make it an emergency for Minnesota.

  8. RIII says:

    If this is pressing busness for our House and Senate perhaps they should take a few years off and save the taxpayers allot of money.

  9. John Frykman says:

    Sooner or later, even the most rabid Viking fans will start realizing that this is not “our” team. It’s Ziggy’s. Ziggy has loyalty to the dollar, not to Minnesota fans. This is a big business. It’s entertainment, not really sport. Professional sports have become a distraction. Minnesota has WAY to many problems to worry about Ziggy’s business. And Minnesota taxpayers are taxed WAY too much already.

    I have not problem with the Vikings getting their own playpen, as long as I as a taxpayer don’t have to pay for it. Just because we made a mistake and built a baseball field for the Twins doesn’t mean we have to repeat the mistake and redecorate the Arena as well as a new park for the St. Paul Saints. How about the same money being put into the crumbling infrastructure in city parks, where real people would like to play sports without having to get paid multi-millions to do so? That would be a real change. Think of it: Taypayers getting to pay for what they really want and need, and are willing to spend their own tax dollars to get it.

    Let the Vikings leave. Tear down that ugly monstrosity where they have played and take the land to build a public park. Think of the kind of park we could have for say, $300,000,000? And we wouldn’t have to pay to heat and cool it either.

    1. Agreed plus more says:

      Amen, bro, amen. Zygi has always put the dollar ahead of everything, including his own team and, of course, the people of Minnesota.

      As mordacai says above, Zygi hasn’t said a single word, not one word, about building a world class team so why does he need a world class stadium for a bunch of overpaid non-performers to be watched by a bunch of drunken loud mouths? Zygi makes his money in two ways 1) developing and 2) milking the fans with high ticket, concession, and parking prices.

      Obviously Zygi’s and Lester’s mothers never taught them the financial golden rule of “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” i.e. “You can fleece the people out of more money by being nice” because neither of them has demonstrated anything but arrogance and indifference towards the very people they expect to hand them their money.

  10. The Editor says:

    What momentum?

    Do you mean the pretend momentum the media is creating on behalf of Zygi?

    At least the writer isn’t pretending the issue is about the location of a stadium like the other media sycophants.

    FYI: You can get your legislator’s email address here:


  11. Bud says:

    Stop wasting time, and build a new stadium

  12. polster says:

    I hope they increase the rent price greatly for any games played not under a lease.

  13. Craig Johnson says:

    The Arden Hilssite is the best possible soution there is. It’s got lots of room to expand and build other stuff there. What is the proble, it’s a no-braine here. Get with it Minnesota

  14. FanPage Marketing says:

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