Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Governor Dayton's Curious Letter to Vikings Subjugates Weightier Revenue Issues

Yesterday, Minnesota Governor cum military attache, Mark Dayton, penned a letter to the Minnesota Vikings in which he expressed dismay and dissatisfaction with the team's apparent plans to incorporate personal seat licenses (PSLs) into their ticket-pricing plans and the team's commitment to play one or more home games in London.  On the former, the Governor is either obtuse or a fraud.  On the latter, he has a case he needs to continue to push.

If Governor Dayton is serious about his dismay over the Vikings' pursuit of a PSL, that dismay does nothing but suggest that the Governor is woefully out of touch with one of his primary policy "achievements"--the Vikings' stadium bill.  The final language of the agreement to construct a new Vikings' stadium specifically confers upon the stadium management authority the role of coordinating with the Vikings the sale of PSLs.  The language of the agreement makes clear that, though not a fait accompli, PSLs are both permissible and, seemingly, expected.

Assuming Governor Dayton is not simply suffering an episode of dementia, it is impossible to believe that he did not understand the language of the stadium agreement--language requiring only rudimentary reading skills to comprehend.

That leaves only the more troubling possibility that Governor Dayton's outrage is not sincere.  That would be unfortunate, as it would undermine the second source of his outrage--the one not addressed by the Vikings in their otherwise germane response to the Governor's letter--the Vikings' decision to play at least one home game in London.  It would also quite unfortunately suggest that Governor Dayton does not understand that there remains a considerable degree of negotiation over the new stadium left to be had, should his minions on the stadium authority council be so directed.

The Vikings' decision to play a home game in London is disgraceful on every level.  It comes only after passage of legislation providing substantial public funding for the team's new stadium and undercuts the team's purported commitment to those who made the stadium possible and whose livelihoods depend on the home games.  The Vikings' rationale for the decision is that the NLF has guaranteed the team a lot of money and that the team will be able to "grow its brand."  If you did not before understand where the Vikings stood regarding the loyalty relationship between fans and team--the one that the team called on in support of a new stadium and now betrays--you should now.

The London issue is one that Dayton ought to continue to press and one that he ought to instruct his stadium authority friends to hold over the head of the Vikings in negotiations on a lease for a new stadium.

That latter element is something that Dayton appears not be fully versed on either.  For, as of this moment, the Vikings have not yet inked the terms of their lease agreement in the new stadium.  Under the new stadium agreement, the stadium authority is vested with the power to grant the Vikings all revenue streams--or none.  That spectrum is something that will determine whether Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and Minnesota struck a good deal on the stadium.  And that is the issue that should be consuming Governor Dayton's sports facility-occupied time.

Conversely, Dayton should care whether the Vikings employ PSLs only to the extent that the Vikings' ability to impose PSLs may be used as leverage by the stadium authority to obtain similar revenue benefits for the public that is footing the bill for the stadium.  Otherwise, Dayton should be content with  the knowledge that the Vikings can only impose PSLs if fans are willing to pay for them--and that almost assuredly will depend both on how much the team charges and for which seats.  Objections to such licenses logically would need to carry over to objections to higher ticket prices.  For, if the team does not impose PSLs, it almost assuredly will charge more for tickets (above the increase that fans already will realize in the new stadium).  That's simple economics.

In short, if Governor Dayton truly is sincere in his disgust with the Vikings' latest money grab, he should save his public venom for the Vikings' commitment to playing in London and pursue recoupment for that commitment and the near-certain imposition of PSLs through negotiation of a more public-friendly lease agreement that confers upon the public more of the benefits from the stadium's various revenue streams.

Up Next:  Rick Spielman Changes Timeline on Christian Ponder

No comments: