Source: Vikings Sale Inked

Red McCombs has a history of buying professional sports franchises, making a profit and getting out. VU has been told that it has already happened with the Vikings.

Viking Update has been informed by a source close to the situation that Red McCombs has a deal already signed with Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to buy the Vikings for $450 million. That price would nearly double what McCombs paid for the team prior to the 1998 season.

According to the reliable source, the deal is signed but has yet to go through all the necessary channels of approval. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will be attending the Vikings-Lions game on Oct. 13, and with an 0-4 team (Minnesota) playing a 1-3 team (Detroit) it is highly unlikely Tagliabue is attending for entertainment purposes only.

McCombs was thought to be seeking a deal near $600 million with other people who have expressed interest in the team. Among them was the Anschutz Group, which had designs on building a stadium in Los Angeles. However, without a stadium deal in place in the Twin Cities or elsewhere, the $600 million price tag appeared inflated. Other reports also claim that the Indianapolis Colts have taken the lead as the most likely team to move to Los Angeles.

With Taylor, a Mankato and Twin Cities businessman, at the helm of the Vikings, a stadium deal in the Twin Cities could be easier for local politicians to support with a local owner. To date, the Minnesota Legislature has been sluggish to move on any proposal presented by the Vikings, with or without the support of the University of Minnesota, a partner the Vikings believe they need to get a stadium deal done. Any sale of the team would have had to move fast because the NFL's G-3 financing plan, which could loan approximately $50 million to a stadium project in Minnesota, is set to expire in March 2003. That program loaned $250 million to projects in Chicago, Detroit and Seattle.

"The program allows such teams to qualify for upfront loans from the NFL in the amount of 34-50 percent of the private contribution to a public-private stadium project," according to the NFL.

The legislature's hesitations on a new stadium project could change with an owner so deeply rooted in local interests. Taylor already owns the Timberwolves and has been connected with the possible sale of the Minnesota Twins in recent years. If Taylor would have the resources to own all three, he would have a monopoly on the three major professional sports teams in town and could largely control broadcasting rights as a package. The Vikings, the team that long has generated the most interest in this town, would be the gem of Taylor's sports franchises.

The sale could include the involvement of at least one former Viking, but the role of that player isn't confirmed.

Before the deal is finalized, it has to be met with the approval of NFL owners, and the next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 30-31 in New York City. The NFL's annual meeting is March 23-26, 2003, in Phoenix.

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