So the Vikings stadium bill passes the House, 73-58. Yesterday I speculated that the DFL would need to deliver more than 34 votes to pass the thing and it delivered 40. So it goes.
As I suspected would happen, the bill did get amended in some important ways yesterday. The Star Tribune has the complete list, but there are three provisions that I find especially interesting:
- While increasing the cost to the Vikings/NFL by $105 million, and taking a chunk out of naming rights will get the headlines, I think protecting the city of Minneapolis and the state from cost overruns is pretty significant. Since the DFL and its allies pointedly voted down a provision that would have exempted the project from "prevailing wage" (a/k/a union wage) rules, there are almost certainly going to be cost overruns to this project. I would imagine that, after all is said and done, the cost to the Vikings/NFL actually went up closer to $200 million yesterday. That's a lot of money. I also think the provision could lead to litigation later on.
- Increasing the term of the lease from 30 to 40 years is a big deal. If you look at the history of such things, the NFL doesn't like to stay in the same place for 40 years. About the only stadium that I can think of that the NFL has occupied for that length of time without significant changes is the stadium in San Diego. I fully expect that if this thing gets built, the NFL will get restless well before 40 years elapse, so this could be a bit of a poison pill.
- Closely related is the cost increase imposed on the Vikings if the team changes ownership after the stadium is built. The Wilfs are making good money now and should, theoretically, be making better money if the Vaseline Dome comes to fruition, but long-term economics of the deal could start to look shaky if the NFL has to pay out a lot of money to former players because of concussions and other traumatic injuries. The gunshot that killed Junior Seau resounded throughout a lot of boardrooms. The Wilfs would be committing themselves to some major financial risk if the deal goes through as it currently sits. They may not be willing to do that.
Now, it's possible that some of these provisions may not be part of the final bill and I'm certain that the Vikings will be trying to get most of the amendments stripped out if the bill passes the Senate and goes to a conference committee, but I don't think they'll be able to get rid of all of the changes. Yesterday was a very expensive day for Zygi Wilf.
Cross-posted and comments welcome at Mr. Dilettante's Neighborhood.