McCombs Rumors Begin Again

The rumor mill has started kicking up the dust once again -- this time not that Red McCombs is going to sell the team, but move it to Los Angeles.

The rumors of the Vikings being sold or relocating have been on the radar screen for years. Despite selling every seat in the Metrodome since 1998, the Vikings have been one of the frontrunners to fill the vacancy that exists in Los Angeles for a football team.

Once again the rumors have started that the Vikings are that team to fill the void. In the past, the talk of relocation has been a ploy by Red McCombs to get the state involved in talking stadium. Now it sounds like the rumor mill is being fed by McCombs, but not about a sale to Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. This time it's about McCombs taking his Vikings and heading west.

As VU has discussed many times in the past, our understanding of the the contract signed by then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle with the state legislature guaranteed a NFL team in Minnesota if the Vikings broke the lease on the Metrodome -- which runs through 2011. VU has been told that McCombs believes he can buy out the final years of the lease for about $40 million and have the Vikings in L.A. for the 2008 season. Others contend that the lease won't be that easily broken, it will be difficult to get a 75 percent vote to move a team that sells every possible ticket to every game and that Minnesota will fight for its team. Keep in mind that the state fought the powerful tobacco industry in court and won.

The bottom line numbers being thrown around are that the Vikings in Los Angeles would be worth about $800 million -- much more than Taylor is offering ($450 million) and even higher than McCombs' asking price for the team ($600 million).

While the "Chicken Little" media in Minnesota continues to say the sky is falling, VU is convinced a deal will be struck for a new stadium -- whether McCombs is still the owner or not -- before the team is allowed to go away. But, until that happens, threats to move will continue, and, if nothing is done, it may be a threat McCombs tries to exercise.

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