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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published September 16 2013

Dayton wants Wilfs to pay some stadium construction costs

ST. PAUL – An investigation shows the Vikings owners can afford their share of stadium construction costs, and now Gov. Mark Dayton says he wants to make sure they use some of their own money for the job.

Dayton said Monday that he is bothered by reports showing owners Zygi and Mark Wilf could get by without forking over any of their own dough for the nearly $1 billion stadium.

“I strongly urge you to negotiate a final financial agreement, which requires the Vikings’ owners to provide a significant share of their financial contribution from their own resources and not from Vikings’ fans through the sale of expensive personal seat licenses,” Dayton wrote to the head of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

The authority is in the final days of negotiating contracts with the Wilfs.

Seat licenses, naming rights for the stadium and $200 million from the National Football League all count as the team’s contribution under a state law enacted last year.

Critics say the owners may end up paying nothing out of their own pockets.

An authority financial report released Friday shows the Wilfs have enough money to pay their share.

Dayton wrote to authority Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen that her agency’s report is good news, but he urged her to keep seat license fees low. Licenses are fees charged, above ticket prices, for the right to have certain seats.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for a comment about the Dayton letter and whether it would affect ongoing negotiations with the Vikings.

While Dayton called for low-cost seat licenses, one legislator made a last-minute effort to stall the contracts and totally rewrite the law about stadium financing.

Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, said he wants more information on the financing made public, the state’s cost to drop, and to require Vikings owners to pay $200 million toward stadium construction.

“The Wilfs ran all over us ...” Barrett said. “They got everything they asked for.”

Barrett’s proposal calls for $200 million from the National Football League, $150 million from stadium naming rights, $175 million from seat licenses, $150 million from Minneapolis, $100 million from the state and $200 million from the Wilfs.

“This proposal is about 18 months too late to be taken seriously,” Dayton Deputy Chief of Staff Bob Hume said.

Hume did not comment about whether Dayton’s last-minute proposal seeking less costly seat licenses also was too late.

Last week, Kelm-Helgen said that she hoped stadium negotiations would conclude early this week. The authority’s board must approve contracts by the end of next week.

Construction is to begin Nov. 1 on a site overlapping the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. The first football game in the multi-purpose facility is expected in the fall of 2016. The Vikings plan to play in the