Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Where Money Is No Object

In the panoply that is the professional sports landscape in the United States, one league stands high above all others in creating revenue for team owners. That league, the NFL, is so adept at churning out money that even the have-nots of the league find themselves awash in money year after year.

So it is that the Minnesota Vikings enter the 2007-2008 NFL off-season with a wad of cash and the hope of using some of that cash to sign at least two or three relevant players--something that the team failed to do last off-season.

As Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf silently counts his largesse, while publicly bemoaning his impoverished plight, there are moves that the Vikings' front office can make to improve the team, shore up the fan base, and increase the bottom line. And each of these moves begins with the team's ownership demonstrating leadership rather than insisting that others come to the rescue of a fairly well-situated franchise.

This bold move begins with Wilf implementing plans to build and fund, on the team's dime, a new, retractable-roof stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The rest will follow naturally if the Vikings follow the proper course.

The "proper course" requires much attention to detail. And, if Wilf is serious about running a quality franchise that is also considerably more profitable than it already is, he and his cohorts will pay attention to these details.

Up Next: Line Resolutions. Plus, Childress' make or break season.

4 comments:

Bill From Arlington, VA said...

Oh please VG don't expect the Wilfs to foot the entire bill for a new stadium when NO other franchise in the NFL has done this including the new Cowboys stadium which is being financed both by Jerry Jones and Arlinton, TX taxpayers increase of the city's sales tax by one-half of a percent, the hotel occupancy tax by 2 percent, and car rental tax by 5 percent. The City of Arlington will provide $325 million in funding, and Jones will cover any cost overruns.

As much as I love the Vikings and MN if the state and municipalities don't get serious on this issue I would support Zygi's moving the team and I believe the NFL is moving in that direction as well.

Vikes Geek said...

Bill,

Actually, the New England Patriots privately funded the Patriots' new stadium--without a dime of public support. They are unlikely to be the only team to do this going forward, however, as the advantages of having complete control over the revenue streams of a privately-funded stadium are better understood. In the current environment, most avid fans believe they are taking up the cause of the local team by advocating for a publicly subsidized stadium. This is largely the consequence of the fact that fans receive their primary information on stadium funding from ownership groups that are looking at the situation in the short term (i.e., planning to sell shortly after a new stadium is built or announced) or that are, themselves, inadequately conversant on the various long-term financial benefits of having complete control over a new stadium.

VG

Bill From Arlington, VA said...

VG,

I would agree with you if the Wilfs could assemble a development package for a mixed-use development around any stadium site with the stadium itself serving as anchor. This model has worked well here in DC with the Verizon Center. But that's a basketball/hockey arena that also hosts concerts, etc. And, of course, the new Washington Nats stadium in SE DC will open this spring.

But a pro football-only venue is less likely to be able to follow this model. FedEx Field which was built by Jack Kent Cooke with aid from Prince George's Co., MD is a case in point. The Wilfs are savvy real estate developers. Further, if Vikings fans can't even sell out the abomination that is the Metrodome are they going to pack a new facility if the team continues to be mediocre? Redskins fans have here for the past fifteen years as the franchise has struggled on the field.

I'm fully aware of the false promises held out to muncipalities vis-a-vis stadium investments as outlined in Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist's seminal work on the subject, Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums, but instead of rejecting the private/public investment model outright I would suggest that more creative ways should be found to make this expensive undertaking profitable for both parties.

But the bottom line is this: If a new stadium deal isn't done in the coming year the Vikings future in Minnesota is in serious doubt.


BTW, it's good to see Mike Tice's name back in the running for a HC position. I never thought he should have been fired in the first place having done a better job than Chili with far less to work with.

Vikes Geek said...

Bill,

I mostly agree with you. I would add, however, that the ball is in the Vikings' court. It is up to the team to devise a proposal that is profitable to both the team and the city/county/state, rather than the other way around. I also find it highly short-sighted and completely ludicrous to build a football-only venue. It makes no sense from any financial angle. And for fans who recall the old Met, it is fanciful to plan a new stadium that does not include a retractable roof. Younger fans might appreciate the "toughness" of sitting through a chilly November/frigid December game, but fans who recall the Met and the difficulties that the team had selling out on those cold days have a more sober and realistic view of what a retractable roof means to the team's bottom line.

VG