Dome for a dollar won't work for Vikings

The Vikings aren't interested in purchasing the Metrodome for a dollar, a proposal brought by a state representative Thursday. Hanging onto the Metrodome in any arrangement doesn't solve the team's revenue issues, according to a Vikings official.

One Minnesota politician would like to put the Metrodome on the dollar menu.

Rep. Paul Kohls, a Republican from Victoria, introduced a bill that would sell the Metrodome to the Vikings for $1 in exchange for a commitment to keeping the Vikings in Minnesota for 20 years.

The idea, while appreciated, doesn't solve the issue that the Metrodome doesn't produce enough revenue for the Vikings to remain financially competitive with other NFL teams.

"The Metrodome does not work for pro (or college) sports economics or for Vikings fans' game day experience," said Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president and point man on stadium issues, in an e-mail. "We need to build a new facility in order to secure the Vikings' long-term future in Minnesota. While we appreciate Rep. Kohls effort, this does not get us there."

The Vikings are the last remaining major tenant in the Metrodome after the Minnesota Gophers began play in TCF Bank Stadium on campus last fall and the Minnesota Twins will open Target Field this spring.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, has commissioned studies on possible solutions for a new or renovated stadium, and remodeling the Metrodome has consistently been labeled as nearly as expensive as a new stadium and not accomplishing some of the objectives, which include increased opportunities for revenue and alleviating some of the poor fan experiences because of an outdated stadium.

The Vikings ranked 31st out of 32 franchises in team value and revenue, according to a Forbes magazine study last fall, and the Vikings have one of the worst and oldest stadium situations in the league. They don't receive competitive money from concessions and parking, and their advertising and sponsorship opportunities are limited by the configuration of the Metrodome.

The latest study on building a new stadium lowered the cost of the venue from $956 million a few years ago to $870 million late last year because of a decrease in labor costs due to the economy. The $870 million figure includes a retractable roof, which the Vikings say they don't need but the MSFC says would add value to the state and allow it host other events in the building year round. A new stadium wouldn't receive serious consideration for hosting a future Super Bowl or NCAA men's basketball tournament without a retractable roof. Both of those events are considered economic boons to the local economy.

With the Vikings one of the lowest revenue-producing teams in the NFL when it comes to stadium income, they have received $15 million to $20 million annually from other teams through the NFL's Supplemental Revenue Sharing program, but NFL owners voted to disband that program recently, only to see the NFL Players Association step in and win a court ruling saying the program can't be disbanded just because the 2010 season is expected to go on without a salary cap because it is the final year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NFL is considering appealing that court ruling.

"Not sure whether or not the NFL will appeal the ruling by the Special Master on supplemental revenue sharing," Bagley said. "Regardless, this program is in jeopardy, which underscores our need to resolve our stadium issue as soon as possible."

That resolution doesn't involved remodeling or transferring ownership of the Metrodome.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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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