Horner Offers Leadership Principles for New Vikings Stadium

Jul 29, 2010, 15:59 ET from Horner2010

MINNEAPOLIS, July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tom Horner, Independence Party-endorsed candidate for governor, today outlined a plan to keep the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota.  Horner's proposal is based on a private-public partnership to build a new domed stadium.

"Minnesota cannot afford to lose an asset as important as the Minnesota Vikings," Horner said. "Our state is blessed with an abundance of major league resources -- from our lakes and parks to our theaters and museums. The Vikings are such an asset."

A new Vikings stadium would generate at least $26 million in annual tax revenue, create new jobs for construction and be a key asset in attracting major events, from an NCAA Final Four to major conventions.  "But equally important are the intangible benefits of a team that for the past half-century has helped create a sense of statewide community and is an important asset in attracting and retaining the top talent to Minnesota in all walks of life," Horner said.

"But as important as the Vikings are to Minnesota, Minnesota is important to the Vikings," Horner said. The Twin Cities is the 14th largest television market in the country. The Vikings' 2009 home game with Green Bay drew the largest viewing audience in cable history. The Vikings have also sold out 126 consecutive home games.

The Vikings stadium issue is coming to a head. The team's lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season, and the team has said it won't renew the agreement without a stadium deal in place.  

"Legislators have ducked this issue for years because it's controversial," said Horner. "But Minnesotans and the Vikings deserve an answer. Avoiding tough issues isn't an option for Minnesota if we are going to build a stronger state."  

Horner said his four principles for resolving the stadium issue are as follows:

  1. Timing - The stadium decision needs to be made during the 2011 legislative session. However, funds for the stadium will not come at the expense of funding core services, including economic development and job creation, education, health care, human services, infrastructure, and the environment.  Also, the NFL has to resolve its collective bargaining agreement with the players union before any construction begins. The current collective bargaining agreement expires in March 2011.
  2. Partnership - A plan will require a cooperative effort among the Vikings, NFL, business community, and public. The Vikings must commit to providing taxpayers with greater security at lower cost by signing a 40-year lease, paying 40 percent of the costs and paying one-third of a new stadium's operating costs. Such commitments would demonstrate leadership from the Vikings and go beyond what other teams have done. In addition, the public owners of a new stadium will receive all the revenue from all non-Vikings events, including ticket sales, concessions, suites rentals and in-stadium advertising.
  3. Funding - Those who benefit most from a new stadium should pay more for its construction. Multiple funding options need to be considered to meet the estimated $32-to-$34 million per year state cost on 40-year bonds. Funding needs to come from a statewide source that does not include income, sales or property taxes. Options could include a penny-per-drink tax on liquor, a ticket tax on all stadium events including Vikings games, revenues from a Racino, and stadium revenues from non-Vikings events including concessions, advertising, and suite sales.
  4. Equity Interest - If the team is sold, any increase in the value of the team that is gained by ownership would be shared proportionately with taxpayers on the basis of their contribution. This would remain in effect until the stadium is paid in full.

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