Zulgad: Wilf makes commitment to Vikings, will state do the same?
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Zygi Wilf is not the first owner of the Minnesota Vikings to make a continuing plea for a new stadium to replace the Metrodome.
Red McCombs bought the franchise in 1998 and it didn't take long for him to realize that his franchise was playing in an outdated venue that lacked the ability to generate the type of revenue that other teams were able to capture.
McCombs held onto the Vikings until 2005 before finally deciding the politicians in Minnesota would never assist him in building the stadium he wanted.
It was a bit difficult to sympathize with McCombs on this issue because of his insistence of running the Vikings on the cheap.
Wilf bought the Vikings from McCombs for a reported $600 million and has had the same problems that McCombs did in escaping the Metrodome.
Wilf, though, has been the anti-McCombs in his willingness to spend money to obtain or retain key players. The latest example came Saturday when on the eve of Wilf's seventh season as owner the Vikings announced they had signed Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson to a seven-year extension.
The reported numbers on Peterson's deal: $100 million, including $36 million guaranteed and $40 million over the first three years.
That came five days after the Vikings took the franchise tag off linebacker Chad Greenway and signed him to a $41 million, five-year contract that has $20 million in guarantees.
These are some big-revenue type contracts for a team that gets plenty of money from the NFL but makes very little from its own stadium. Meanwhile, clubs such as the Cowboys, Packers, Redskins, Giants, Jets and many more are getting the best of both worlds.
The Vikings dispute the accuracy of the annual rankings Forbes does of what each NFL team is worth - this year the Vikings were 28th of the 32 teams with a value of $796 million-- but there is no arguing that Wilf's franchise is near the bottom of the league.
Wilf already has said he will contribute a little more than $407 million up front to build a proposed stadium in Arden Hills. That doesn't include the $20 million a year that ownership also would kick in during the course of a 30-year lease agreement.
Team officials are hoping a special session will be called in October so the legislature can approve a $300 million contribution from the state that would go toward building a venue that would still take a few years to construct.
The Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires after this season, but they would certainly sign one-year leases if promised a new stadium. If that doesn't happen, there is a real possibility that Wilf will begin to explore his options.
It's no secret that Tim Leiweke and his Anschutz Entertainment Group want to put a team in a downtown Los Angeles stadium they want to build. Real estate executive Ed Roski also hasn't given up on his goal of drawing a team to the stadium he wants to build in Industry, Calif., which is about 20 miles away from L.A.
There were some rumblings last year that the Vikings might have changed their approach toward locking up their best players when no contract extensions were given out during the season. Brett Favre, though, did receive a $4 million raise just to return.
The theory about Wilf possibly being tired of spending his money with little return gained a bit of momentum after the NFL lockout ended when wide receiver Sidney Rice was allowed to leave for Seattle as a free agent.
But the reality is the Vikings knew where they wanted to spend their cash and that was on Greenway and Peterson. They also hadn't given out extensions in 2010 because of the uncertainty of what the new collective bargaining agreement would look like.
Once a new CBA was in place, the Vikings went to work on locking up two of their best players. This undoubtedly is going to result in another cash call from Wilf to the minority owners, who have gone through this drill before and certainly are tired of it.
The Metrodome simply doesn't provide enough money to cover the Vikings' cash expenditures. Nonetheless, the message from Wilf and his brother, team president Mark Wilf, has been that they will do what's necessary to keep the team competitive.
What they're asking for in return is a stadium that will allow them to do so.
If the answer to that question continues to be no, then Wilf can't be blamed if Peterson and Greenway end up playing out their contracts in Los Angeles.