NFL commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on the Minnesota Vikings stadium situation on Wednesday. In a phone call with Gov. Mark Dayton, the commissioner upped the stakes in the legislative battle to subsidize construction of a proposed $1 billion Minneapolis home for the Vikings.
According to the Pioneer Press, Goodell said that their would be "serious consequences" if the current legislative session ended if the bill directing state and local tax dollars to pay for roughly half of the project were not passed.
"I don't know if that means a sale. I don't know if that means a move. You have a very dejected ownership," Eric Grubman, NFL executive vice president of finance and strategic transactions, said.
Grubman one-upped that statement by bringing up the specter of owner Zygi Wilf listening to interested buyers.
"There are plenty of willing buyers. I think the Wilfs do not want to sell the franchise, but I think there is a point where they probably would be open-minded. I would not be surprised if [Goodell] tells the governor, if he asks, what other cities are interested."
On Monday, the Minnesota House rejected Gov. Dayton's compromise plan for a stadium project. That bill would have directed almost $400 million in state-wide gaming taxes and $150 million from Minneapolis sales taxes toward the project. The Vikings and the NFL would have kicked in $427 million.
That plan would have bypassed a requirement for a public vote to approve the use of more than $10 million of state tax revenue for sports facilities.
The whole thing is playing out against the backdrop of two competing stadium projects in Los Angeles. One project in the suburbs, Ed Roski's Grand Crossing, has completed an environmental impact study, but would require a team to self-finance the construction of a new stadium. Entertainment company AEG is moving quickly on a downtown stadium project, Farmers Field, and looking to purchase part of a team to relocate. Both projects have their own list of complications, but are likely to loom large in the discussion of what to do in Minnesota.
In order for a team to move, it requires approval of NFL owners. Grubman also said in the interview that the situation in Minnesota is likely be viewed by the league as a "stalemate," which would open the door for relocation.
The issue has received more discussion since Monday's vote, a potential sign that it could be revisited before the end of the legislative session. Gov. Dayton mentioned the possibility of a special session after November's elections, where he might find a legislature more willing to compromise.
The Vikings will play the 2012 season in the Metrodome, without a long-term lease. They are free to leave the facility at any time after the season.