The Vikings were caught off-guard by a new proposal from the group running the Metrodome and they don't appear to have any interest in extending their lease without a partnership to build a new stadium.
The relationship between the Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, took a strange and confusing turn Tuesday, as a finance sub-committee of the MSFC passed a proposal that would extend the Vikings lease in the Metrodome beyond its scheduled end in 2011.
However, the proposal wasn't met with a happy reception by the Vikings. As part of the proposal, it would seem the approximately $4 million annual rent the Vikings have had waived the last nine years is being used as a partial incentive to extend the lease (or, depending on your point of view, a threat that it could be reinstated), which was met with an immediate a sharply worded response from Lester Bagley, vice president of public affairs and stadium development.
In a story by Jay Weiner of MinnPost.com, Bagley said that the Vikings were blindsided by the vote and apparently unaware it was taking place.
"We've been negotiating in good faith the resolve this issue to get some short-term expense relief," Bagley said. "Then, without the simple courtesy of a phone call or a heads-up, they drop this radical proposal on us. Our owners are making significant investments in the team and building support and a winning team. The commission's actions leave us even more concerned about our long-term prospects here."
With both the Twins and University of Minnesota no longer Metrodome tenants, if the Vikings leave, the Metrodome would have to close and Bagley said the Vikings ownership group isn't happy about the proposal.
"We're the last remaining tenant," Bagley told MinnPost.com. "We expect to be treated with some level of respect and I guess we'll have to continue to wait. The Wilfs are landlords. You don't do this to a tenant whose lease is up."
The full MSFC will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Metrodome, where the sub-committee proposal will be discussed and potentially brought to a full vote of the commission. Whether intended or not, Tuesday's move would seem to be a glove slap across the face of the Vikings management team and one that it doesn't appear is going to be taken lightly or with any receptiveness.
With Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre in the running for the FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Week, Sidney Rice pulled down and honor of his own, being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his 201-yard performance Sunday against Detroit. Rice became the fifth Vikings to win a player of the week award this year, joining Chad Greenway (Defensive P.O.W. vs. Detroit in Week 2), Percy Harvin (special teams vs. San Francisco) and Favre as Offensive P.O.W. twice in both Green Bay games.
Former Vikings kicker Steve Hauschka is now a former Ravens kicker as well. Hauschka, who spent the 2008 preseason with the Vikings, was cut Tuesday after another shaky performance. Hauschka missed a potential game-winning field goal for the Ravens at the Metrodome last month and his kicking woes have continued ever since.
At a luncheon in Owatonna Tuesday, Vikings president Mark Wilf said that if Brett Favre wants to return for 2010, he would be more than welcome to do so by the organization. When Favre signed his contract, it was a two-year, $25 million deal. Wilf was in Owatonna for one of the Vikings' "You Made the Team" community tours of outstate Minnesota.
The interesting new twist about the Vikings being so heavily represented atop the fan voting for the Pro Bowl is that, under its 2010 setup, the game would be played the week before the Super Bowl in Miami and none of the competing teams in the Super Bowl would have any of their players take part.
Former Vikings offensive lineman Melvin Fowler signed with the Detroit Lions Tuesday.