For Vikings, stadium financing is important

The Vikings are still working on a partnership between them and local and state governments to finance a stadium, but the NFL likely will have to be involved as well. The G3 league-sponsored financing program is dead.

As the Vikings work toward getting a stadium deal, the team has committed to paying one third of the cost of the new digs – even though they currently seem to be standing firm to one third of an open-air stadium, even though, to make a legitimate run at hosting major events other than Vikings games, a fixed-roof or retractable roof stadium may be needed.

No matter how you cut it, the Wilf ownership group is likely going to have to pony up $300 million or so of their own money to get a new stadium done. Like other teams that have built stadiums in recent years, they are going to hope to tap into the NFL's stadium fund. The problem, however, is significant. The current fund – known as G3 financing to help owners with their share of the financing of construction costs – is dead. But could it be resurrected?

"The G3 was the old financing program that's been exhausted," said Lester Bagley, the team's vice president of stadium development. "The Cowboys and the Jets/Giants (stadiums) kind of tapped that out, so there's no more league-financed support. Although there is interest and there's a willingness to have the conversation (of reinstating G3 funding)."

Bagley said that the fund has provided assistance for the funding of stadiums and many teams have taken advantage of it. However, with the fund expired, there are going to be several teams looking to re-start the program as their stadiums age and need to be renovated – like Lambeau Field was several years ago.

"When we get to teams in smaller markets, these projects are very expensive and hard to do," Bagley said. "So this G3 financing, or whatever the evolution of the program will be, is important. It helps teams finance the private contributions. It's part of the private contribution, so it's important for us to get that and the Wilfs have been talking with other owners and the commissioner and, as this thing has come into focus – the league has to approve any financing deal to build a stadium – and our request when we are close to that is to also get some league financing support."

The Vikings hope that, once the dust settles and a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, the owners will assess their position and create a new program for a revised version of G3. If it does, the Vikings may find themselves first in line to jump in the pool.

"We will take a run at it once we have the kind of outline of a deal and we're ready to bring it forward," Bagley said. "It's important for sure and the commissioner has indicated support and we're just going to have to push that forward."

SATURDAY NOTES

  • One of the more interesting offseason moves was the decision by the Indianapolis Colts to release safety Bob Sanders. Due $5.5 million next season, Sanders became a salary liability due to his growing list of injuries. There has never been a question of his talent – he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 – but his ability to stay healthy has been the biggest issue. In seven years, he has never played in all 16 games. In fact, of a possible 102 games in his career, he had played just 57 games – missing 55 due to injury, including 39 of the last 48 and 29 of 32 over the last two years. His leverage with any other team in nonexistent, which could be an advantage for the Vikings. They need an upgrade at safety, yet have all four effectively under contract – Madieu Williams, Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford are all signed and Husain Abdullah is scheduled to be a restricted free agent.

    When Sanders was at his best, one of his position coaches was Leslie Frazier, who still has fond memories of what a healthy (by Sanders' standards) version of Big Shot Bob was capable of doing. Sanders could be signed immediately and given an incentive-based contract tied into playing time that could be a win-win for both sides if he sees playing time and a minimal risk for both if it turns out his career is done. Given the desert that is current free agency, he may well worth the risk.

  • The National Football Post, a respected sports news website, recently rated all 31 NFL stadiums (as most fans know, the Giants and Jets play in the same digs). Some actual complex thought went into this, including factors like architecture, history, weather, fans and location. Lambeau Field finished first, (did author Joe Fortenbaugh ever had to sit four hours on a metal bleacher seat in December to enjoy the experience?). More nostalgia than anything else on that rating. Last on the list? "The place where the Minnesota Vikings play?" The ranking is accompanied with the video of the roof collapse.

  • In a surprising development in the adult nerd card-collecting industry comes this (we have people under deep cover). One of the hottest cards in the selling market is the 2009 Upper Deck Brett Favre Vikings card. Apparently long-term collectors are spotting a value in the card that was the first Vikings card of Favre released – it was part of the second run of the season, making it more valuable given his late signing.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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