Vikings send terse letter to MSFC

The Vikings sent a strongly worded letter to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission on Wednesday in response to the commission's efforts to get the Vikings to extend their lease at the Metrodome. The letter says the team won't deal with the commission until it "gets serious" about addressing the Vikings' revenue issues in the Metrodome.

The Vikings have responded to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission with a sharply worded letter.

On Tuesday, a sub-committee of the MSFC, which operates the Metrodome, passed a resolution offering the Vikings playoff money that the commission currently keeps – at about $675,000 per postseason game, according to MinnPost.com – in exchange for the team extending its lease two years beyond the current lease, which expires after the 2011 season. The Vikings have been seeking a public-private partnership to build a new stadium for them to play in for well over a decade.

On Wednesday, the team sent a letter addressed to Paul Thatcher, the chair of the MSFC's Finance Committee, that roundly criticized the proposal.

"The Minnesota Vikings are shocked, exasperated and extremely disappointed by the flawed ‘revenue relief' proposal advanced by you and passed in your Committee on Tuesday, November 17th. This action was a cynical attempt to advance a ‘proposal' that you know is totally unacceptable to the Minnesota Vikings and fails to address the issues important to both the short-term and long-term success of this franchise in Minnesota," read the first paragraph of the letter.

The letter was also addressed to MSFC chair Roy Terwilliger, executive director Bill Lester, the commissioners of the group, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and members of the Minneapolis City Council.

The letter goes on to say that the Vikings feel the commission has "dragged its feet on these negotiations with no measurable progress" and stated the team's disappointment that the Vikings weren't informed of the resolution.

"We can't conceive of treating a tenant in such a disrespectful manner if the goal is to retain a valued tenant with a new, long-term lease," the letter read. "Despite the fact the Vikings are at the bottom of the League in stadium revenues and have the most uncompetitive stadium deal in the NFL, this ownership group has made significant investments – from ownership capital, not stadium revenues – to turn this team around and inject a renewed sense of enthusiasm and pride in the Minnesota Vikings. We have recruited and signed some of the most talented players in professional football, attracted the right coaching staff and made several other improvements to this franchise without any guarantees of obtaining a competitive stadium."

The Minnesota Gophers started playing in their new outdoor venue, TCF Bank Stadium, this fall, and the Minnesota Twins will begin play at their new Target Field ballpark in 2010. Both were former tenants of the Metrodome as well, and the Vikings are the last major lessee in the building.

"As the last tenant in the Metrodome, we would expect to be treated fairly and with some minimum level of respect. Your actions yesterday leave us confused and questioning the future of this franchise," the Vikings wrote.

"As a result, we have instructed our management team to suspend any further engagement with the MSFC unless and until the Commission gets serious about resolving the near-term revenue issues and acting like a partner with us to retain this valued franchise in the Minnesota for the next generation of fans. The time for more political games on this issue has expired. Actions – not words – will signal to us whether the Commission is a partner or an obstructionist in our efforts to resolve our long-term stadium issue. We look forward to the MSFC joining with the Governor and State Leaders in moving this discussion forward."

The letter is signed by Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.

The MSFC is scheduled to discuss and potentially adopt the resolution during a meeting Thursday morning.


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