Vikings stadium seat licensing storm subsides

7:33 PM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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Stadium concept by HKS Architects

MINNEAPOLIS - The controversy over seat licensing fees for the new Vikings stadium has subsided for now, with assurances by the team that it will find a pricing scheme that fits the Twin Cities market.

Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley made it clear Friday that the team will work in conjunction with the public stadium board, known as the Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission, when it comes to setting prices for any fees paid by season ticket holders.

"We don't have a target. We don't have a program. We don't have pricing. We don't have a decision," Bagley told reporters after the monthly meeting of the stadium board.

Everyone involved in the process, from the chair of the stadium authority to the lawmakers who authored the bills at the Capitol, agree that the legislation gave the team the right to sell what are known as Stadium Building Licenses to ticket holders.

Bagley said the team has completed only 10 percent of the surveys designed to gauge what the market will bear in terms of the revenue the team can expect to extract from the new venue. The Vikings have committed to pay $477 million in private resources toward the $975 million project.

That survey cited examples of license fees in other, more lucrative NFL markets. Those dollars amounts prompted fans and Gov. Mark Dayton to react sharply. But Bagley explained Friday the survey was never intended to project what the Vikings would charge in Minnesota.

"If we proceed on this program we will deliver what the market says, and I think that's what the governor's saying too, that this has to fit the market. And again, this is not Dallas, this is not New York."

Michele Kelm-Helgen, who was appointed by Dayton as chair of the sports facilities commission, said the dollar amounts in the survey created a stir among fans.

"Even with examples of what was being done in other states, all of a sudden people got very anxious and concerned that there was going to be these very, very high fees, in the tens of thousands of dollars," Kelm-Helgen said to reporters.

But she asserted the flap is one of many that could crop up during the stadium planning process.

"At some point these things do get to be controversial, and having it talked about is not necessarily a bad thing because now it's out there. It's on the table" she told reporters.

She said if the Vikings decide to go ahead with the licensing fees for seats, the stadium board will work with the team to develop pricing in line with the special fees imposed at Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium.

Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont attended the stadium authority meeting, and said she's confident that the board will be able to work with the team on those financial issues.  She said, however, that the team's survey should've been vetted with all parties.

"There have been some lessons that have been learned to keep everything open, to make sure everybody's on the same page, and bring everybody to the table before you move forward," Sen. Rosen told KARE.

Bagley asserted that the Vikings weren't trying to hide anything from the public or Governor Dayton, because team often surveys fans and sponsors about possible changes.

"In hindsight we should've perhaps informed the governor, and the media that the survey is going out," he said.

(Copyright 2012 KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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