MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings are pushing back against Gov. Mark Dayton after he criticized the teamfor considering extra fees on season ticket holders to help pay the team's share of building a new football stadium.
The team's statement released Tuesday afternoon comes a few hours after Dayton sent a letter to owners Zygi and Mark Wilf stating his opposition to "personal seat licenses." Dayton says in his letter that what he has called a "People's Stadium" would become a "Rich People's Stadium."
But the Vikings point out seat licenses are authorized under the bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Dayton. The team calls such licenses "a key component of the stadium agreement."
Other NFL franchises and sports teams, from Indianapolis to Dallas and New York, have used personal seat licenses (PSL) to help pay for new stadiums.
On KFAN 100.3 "The Common Man" show, callers flooded the lines with concern. Host Dan Cole said he was surprised the Governor wasn't aware of the PSL plan, but he told listeners, it seemed like double dipping.
"$2,000 to $20,000 of your hard earned money, to have the right to purchase season tickets. It's done all over the country at sports stadiums everywhere," said Cole.
Here in Minneapolis, season ticket holder Jeff Gargaro said he would pay the fee, because the tickets have been in his family since 1961, but for him, many questions are unanswered.
"I'm kind of taking a wait and see approach, I expected something like that thrown in somewhere," said Gargaro. "I hope they don't trash the deal because of it, I think something can be done."
Roshan Rajkumar, bought in right beside Gargaro seven years ago, as a fan who "bleeds purple", but as friends, they sit on both sides of the issue, estimating fees will cost them $12,000 between four seats.
"Maybe the tradition I have had over the last seven years will become a little less of a tradition," said Rajkumar, who says he will be saving for his upcoming wedding and isn't sure if the fans should the shoulder the costs.
"I do love my Vikings and I love being a sports fan but I guess, it is falling on the wrong shoulders. Is the question of Vikings organization making more money, recouping losses, or how does that come back to us?" he said.
Tuesday's statement from the Vikings:
The Minnesota Vikings greatly appreciate Governor Mark Dayton's support for the new multi-purpose stadium for the Vikings and the State of Minnesota. However, we are disappointed by his recent letter to the team, which does not recognize a key component of the stadium agreement struck by the Vikings, State and Local leaders this past spring.
The stadium bill, and the prior term sheet, that was negotiated with the Vikings over the last two legislative sessions by the Governor's own representatives and legislative leaders, includes provisions that expressly authorize the sale of stadium builder's licenses and include the proceeds of any sale in the project budget. Stadium builder's licenses were vetted by the Legislature, testified to by Vikings and State of Minnesota negotiators, and most importantly, specifically reflected in the stadium legislation that was passed and signed by the Governor.
The Vikings look forward to discussing this issue and moving forward with the agreement that was completed after many long years of effort.