2011 has been an interesting year surrounding the Minnesota Vikings organization, which really started with the completely bizarre 2010 football season. We Vikings fans are all too familiar with the events that unfolded the season of 2010, which carried the after effects from the 2009 NFC championship game (a game that will forever live in infamy). The Vikings were coming off a devastating playoff defeat in New Orleans (the eventual SB winner) and the off season kept the media busy with the constant "will he or won't he return this season", known as the Brett Favre saga story. From the traveling Favre circus, to the four week Randy Moss reality show stint, Percy Harvin's consistent migraine malady, Brad Childress being told to watch where the door slams on his way out, the Metrodome roof succumbing to forces of nature, 'home games' played somewhere besides at home, the first Tuesday night game played in sixty some years, injuries, age, uncertainty of the future, etc., etc. All of this enough to make any soap-opera or reality TV show absolutely pale in comparison. And if that wasn't enough, to top it off, pour salt in the wounds, laugh while were down, (fill in any other mockery cliche), as we Viking fans were still bleeding, having not even bandaged our wounds, our two most hated rivals make it to the NFC championship game in the same season assuring that one will end up in the last game of the year. Makes a person look up to the heavens and ask if there is a god or if satan has completely taken over management.
It all brings us to this current year of 2011 and how it concerns the Minnesota Vikings organization. I wanted to gather a plethora of facts to present while writing this, delving into this particular subject lead to so many other very interesting facts and stories that could create an entire book, but for the sake of everyone involved I'll make it concise. (Well, sort of).
1. First begin with the owner, Wilf family are investors, that's what they do, it's in their blood. They bought the Vikings as an investment. Yes, they say they are football fans (admitted Giant fans at that), but they are definitely in it for the money. Wilf says he will not move the Vikings but he would sell them. It would not make sense for him to move the Vikings, the cost, including moving cost and his own travel cost from his home in New Jersey would be expensive, and to him that would eat into his investment profits. BUT... he would sell the Vikings to the highest bidder, of course at a higher price than the $600 million that he paid Red "the terrible" McCombs. Estimates range in the $800-$900 million stratosphere. And that would be tough for any of the few potential local business people, in other words, owners who would want to keep the Vikings in Minnesota, from purchasing the organization and doing just that, keeping the Vikes in the great white north (Minnesota, not Canada for all of you Bob & Doug McKenzie fans). Los Angeles has business people who would have the necessary means and partners to purchase the Vikings and without a second thought move the Purple and Gold to the 'NFL deprived' LA area. Wilf knows this and knows that if he does not get a new stadium in Minnesota he can simply sell the team for profit.
2. The stadium issue - Minnesota is being told by the Vikings, and now by the NFL, that if the Twin Cities area can not find a solution to the stadium issue it is unlikely that the Vikings can survive in Minnesota. Forget the fact that the Vikings are a profitable organization, estimated $200 million a year in profits, forget the fact that the Vikings have been able to survive through five decades of up and down economic times, including the current times which are the worst since the Great Depression. Forget the great loyal fans that continue to fill the seats in the Metrodome on a weekly basis during the season, and the merchandise sales. Forget that the state of Minnesota still has a deficit in the billions of dollars, etc. etc. The Vikings and the NFL are adamant that without a stadium the Vikings will have to move in order to be profitable. This is like when Red "the terrible" McCombs kept saying he was "losing money" on the Vikings. Red wasn't losing money, gREeDy just wasn't making as much as he wanted, or as much as he foresaw either moving the Vikings to San Antonio or getting a new stadium in the Twin Cities. When Red realized the NFL was not going to approve him moving the Vikings to San Antonio and the Twin Cities were not going to build a new stadium he gladly sold to the Wilf family for some extra retirement cash.
The truth is the Vikings can remain profitable playing at the Metrodome for the next ten years, if need be. But an owner with money signs in his eyes doesn't want to ever admit that. The NFL is having their say in this issue because power hungary Comish Goodell wants to put his mark on the NFL-in-LA campaign, and Roger can't seem to sleep at night unless he can deliver a NFL team to the 'financial market mecca' of LA.
My thoughts started to wonder, maybe wondered too far, that perhaps this is how the NFL wants this all to play out. For Goodell to get his way and get a team to LA he could start by getting the media, especially the Minnesota-friendly ESPN network (complete sarcasm), to help make Minnesota look as if the state can not get its poop-in-a-group and come up with a viable stadium solution. Make the state look incompetent so public opinion would form negatively towards the state and the Viking fans, make it look like the people don't care enough to want to keep the Vikings. So, in the future, after Wilf sells the franchise because "he's losing money", then the new owner wants to move the team because "he can not get the support of the state and fans", the NFL owners will be influenced to cast their vote to approve the move of the Vikings to LA because, in their mind, the state of Minnesota is not a viable place for a NFL team, at least not currently, (after the move is approved and the moving vans pull up to Winter Park maybe Goodell throws a sympathy card to the Vikings nation by saying perhaps when the state can support a franchise the NFL will consider granting the state an expansion team in the future when the NFL expands to Toronto, Mexico City, and London.
With that being said comes the other reason that it feels like the NFL is getting ready to move the Vikings... give me a moment because the next three words that I'm about to write are some of the most difficult words to write and even more painfully difficult to say... the Green Bay Packers. Now typically I might write the those words more like this, the Brown Bay Pampers, but for now I'll play nice. As this tragedy of a season draws out, each week seems to bring some kind of aspect to further the feeling that the NFL is priming the Vikings region, spanning the states of Minnesota, the Dakotas, parts of Nebraska, Iowa, and Canada, to notice the Packers (by loads of marketing the Packers, even the Minneapolis Star Tribune can't seem to talk about the Packers enough), more so then ever before, and not just because they were handed had more points in the Super Bowl last year (that's another story of how Mark Murphy was Goodell's little helper during the lockout) and that they are undefeated this year, but it has the feeling that the NFL is already wanting what is currently Vikings territory, to support the Packers organization.
Why?, well the simple answer would be for profit. As the NFL prepares to move the Vikings to LA they need to prime the current Vikings territory to now support the Packers. The NFL doesn't want a big void left in the Vikes current territory so they have to get this 'area' to support another franchise. Since the Bears are in Chicago, which is a large city, they do not need the extra support as much, the Lions are also in a large metropolitan area and the Lions quite frankly would be a harder sell in any region. The Broncos and Chiefs are in a small to mid markets yet still larger then the city of Green Bay. Since Brett Farve was in Green Bay, the Packers have gained some popularity with the younger generation, the NFL figures to try to build on that by promoting the Packers as the Vikings struggle on the field and in the public eye. It's a similar feel to what the commissioner of baseball (and Milwaukee Brewers owner), Bud Selig, tried to do to the Twins several years ago before the Twins got their shiny new ball park. Dissolve the Twins and market the Brewers in the Minnesota Twins 'region'.
Next point would have to do with the "special" rules given by the NFL to, and only to, the Green Bay Packers organization. The blackout rule has been around for awhile in the NFL, the only team not susceptible to the blackout rule are the Green Bay Packers. The arguments always are the same, the Packers sell out their games, they're a small market team, etc. (Most teams sell out their games so that is a lame argument). To go along with the blackout rule is the 75 mile radius (from the teams home stadium) which if a team's games are blacked out the games can not be seen within the 75 mile radius. The Packers are given two markets, the other is the larger city of Milwaukee and to an extent Milwaukee county. Other small market teams are not offered a second market and they are susceptible to blackouts if they do not sell out 72 hours before the start of the game. How difficult would it be after the Vikings are moved to simply make Minneapolis/St. Paul another 'market' for the Packers?, this thought alone makes me want to vomit all over any thing that is mold green and pi_s yellow color.
Skip a few rules and get to the one which I feel is not just unreasonable in a business sense, but seems as if it could be legally unjust as well, and that is the Public Stock Option. I'm not going into the history of why the Packers are the only franchise allowed to sell stock, though it is interesting that the very name sake of the Packers stadium, Lambeau (as in Curly), in 1949 wanted to sell the team to some rich businessmen and did not like the idea of "selling stock" (it eventually led to Lambeau leaving the organization). Without even mentioning the current economic times this country is going through (though I just did), there are several teams, mainly in smaller markets, that have or are threatening to move to, well... LA.
Skipping much information that I had gathered, it ought to be the decision of each NFL organization, any and all NFL organizations (teams), if they want to sell team stock to the public in order to raise the money that is needed to operate a football organization in todays expensive world. I do not have an issue with the Packers being able to sell stock, good for them... I guess, except for the fact that no other team is able to sell stock. And in today's economic downturn (this is where I will mention the current economics), if one team, no matter how small their market, is able to sell stock to raise the necessary finances for expenditures, but no other team is allowed to sell stock, that's like every business has to have a bake sale to make money except the smallest business can have the bake sale and sell stock to the public. I know that's not the best example, but I'm not getting paid for this. We all know that in the business world there are some laws to help small business, which can be beneficial to the small business owner, but there is not a law to prevent any business, no matter what its size, from selling stock to the general public for the potential to generate profit. Regardless if it is "worthless" stock, meaning the stock holder gets no profit or voting privileges, it will still simply generate profit for the company by the sale of it.
The NFL claims that they only allow Green Bay to do this because when the NFL formed Green Bay already had stock holders and that the NFL does not want more then one majority owner for any of its teams. Really what that all boils down to is more control for the power hungary NFL.
During the duration that the Vikings organization was owned by more then one owner, which predated the formation of the NFL-AFL merger in the late 1960s, the Vikings became one of the most successful NFL franchises, winning an NFL championship (the very last NFL championship ever played) defeating the Cleveland Browns 27-7, the Vikings played in four Super Bowls, had the best record in the NFL from 1970-1977, remained competitive after all the Viking greats retired, have played in some of most exciting games the NFL has ever seen, played in NFC championship games (include 1998 because that team was basically put together before McCombs bought the Vikings). Since the NFL has forced the Vikings organization to sell the team to one majority owner the organization has been on an absolute roller coaster ride nearly year after year.
The Vikings are going through changes, no doubt, and being able to sell stock could be a way to help the Vikings organization (and other organizations like the Buffalo Bills would benefit from their own stock sales) garner the necessary profits to help them, for instance to build a stadium to keep the Vikings in Minnesota, if that's what it takes to keep them in Minnesota. The state of Minnesota, like so many states is in a constant financial battle to make money and pay for every thing a state pays for. I would love to see a stadium built but at what cost in comparison to keeping the state as reputable as it as always been.
I hope the Vikings always stay in Minnesota, there is no telling that if the Vikings were able to sell stock that the Wilf family would even consider it, but to not even have the option is one less way to possibly keep the Vikings in Minnesota. I for one would buy stock in the Minnesota Vikings, stock to have a vote for instance in the decisions that hopefully help create a winning championship team. Giving the Viking fans a bit of "ownership" only further increases the desire that is already within Viking fans to will the Vikes to succeed. Viking fans have the Purple Pride, from the days of Grant, Tarkenton, Page, Bill Brown, and others, to the players today. It's been said more than once - Once a Vikings fan, always a Vikings fan.
I had quite a bit of information that I wanted to include in this post, but it is a post and not a book (though it may seem like it is, this is not a book). I will though, include some of the website links and information for any one who is interested (if any one has read to this point). One more thing to say - SKOL VIKINGS!
*Website from the Dish "Politician Wants Vikings to Occupy Wall Street":
*Website "Libertarian Candidate Introduces Zero-Tax Stadium Proposal (6/24/2011):
*Website article New Rules Projects (2010?):
*Website article/question (Jan. 25, 2011):
Excerpt from website article:
"In the end, I agree with Zirin’s conclusion: this is an ownership form that should be replicated. Fans are tired of being blackmailed by owners who threaten to move: Seattle’s loss of the Sonics was a crime. As Zirin notes, current NFL rules prohibit more teams operating like the Packers, but given the league’s own tax exemption under 501(c)(6), and the corruption of the current system, this deserves a Congressional response. I don’t expect the GOP to initiate anything, given its coziness with the super-wealthy, but the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction, should begin hearings. I wonder whether some committee members, such as Minnesota Vikings fan Amy Klobuchar and Seattle Sonics fan Maria Cantwell, both of whom are up for re-election next year, might have some interest in spending some time on the matter."
Website topic question about ownership rules (from 2002):
Comment - "We actually discussed this rule at some point when I was in grad school. The reason was supposedly that the NFL did not want to have owners who were only interested in having a profitable team but who were not worried about fielding a competitive club. (See: The Chicago Cubs under the Tribune's ownership).
The thought process was that if you have an individual owners, you are usually getting a highly competitive person who also probably has quite an ego, and is going to want to win more than some large corporation."
Comment - "I think the regulations on corporations (jklann's point c) is to eliminate a conflict of interests. Imagine a clothing manufacturer, food vendor, or other related company owning a NFL team. Suddenly that team is getting favors, price breaks, and amenities while other teams are getting late shipments, extra fees, wrong products, etc. It could also be possible for a large company to funnel revenue into it's team without the league's consent (accountants can be very creative).
Non-profit organizations get numerous tax breaks so that could schewer the revenue sharing in their favor, as Nametag mentioned."
"The Memphis Redbirds foundation profess to be the only not-for-profit organization that both owns a professional team and the facility they play in. It is a foundation and not a business per se, so I'm not sure if it could be considered a public company or not (you're able to "join the team" by making donations) - I'm a computer geek, not a business administrator :).
The Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation is the only entity in the country that owns and operates both a sports team and the facility. All operating profits are put back into The Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation that funds two youth programs, RBI (Returning Baseball to the Inner City) and STRIPES (Sports Teams Returning In the Public Education System). These programs foster amateur sports, enhance education and teach life skills for the future.
Would this be considered a "public" company?
Also, can their claim be substantiated? (the Redbirds are the AAA Minor League team for the St. Louis Cardinals)"
From the article ‘Our Towns’ PBS :
“almost went bankrupt in the 1920s, until the community stepped in and reorganized the franchise into a non-profit entity -- selling shares in the team to the community.”
“For over 70 years, the team has been the only major sports franchise to be owned by the community in which it is based, and since 1960 NFL rules have prohibited public ownership of football franchises.”
“Only a few teams currently have any form of public ownership, including, along with the Packers, the Boston Celtics and the Florida Panthers. The success of these deals has helped coalesce a growing movement to relax restrictions against public sports team ownership, and last Spring, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced a bill championing this cause in the House of Representatives, dubbed the "Give Fans a Chance" bill.”
From article ‘NFL Ownership Rules’ by Matthew Yglesias Oct.22, 2011 :
“There’s a lot to admire about the quasi-communal ownership structure of the Green Bay Packers, but what’s particularly noteworthy about them is the fact that this unusual structure is actually against the rules of the National Football League: “Every other NFL franchise is controlled or entirely owned by one majority shareholder, and NFL rules prohibit otherwise. (The Packers’ ownership structure predates current NFL rules.)”
This isn’t some kind of massive first-order public policy problem, but given that the vagaries of stadium finance almost inevitably seem to end up implicating the state in the business of high level sports we may as well treat it as one. Basically there’s no reason the various public agencies that end up embroiling themselves in football should stand for this. Why shouldn’t more communities be able to purchase NFL franchises and operate them for the broadly conceived good of a fanbase? It actually seems to me that something along these broad ownership lines is the most logical capital structure for most pro sports teams. You could imagine something like a team being owned by a group of several thousand season ticket holders who’d elect a board amongst themselves and hire a professional manager. As fans, their priority would be to put a winning team on the field. Business considerations would of course be an important element of that—you need revenue to hire players and coaches—but the structure of the “business” would resemble the basic relationship involved in being a season ticket holder. You’re putting money on the line because you can afford it and because you love to root for the team.”
From the Bloomberg Businessweek article “The Green Bay Packers Have the Best Owners in Football” Oct. 20, 2011:
“The Packers have benefited from a league structure that’s orderly, predictable, and by the standards of other sports, egalitarian: The bulk of the Packers’ revenues, $96 million, still comes from the team’s share of the NFL’s television deal, which is split evenly among all 32 franchises. Nothing like the Packers can happen again. The NFL’s ownership rules forbid the model of public shareholders; the NFL’s goal is to ensure that clubs have a single owner with financial resources and management accountability. The league doesn’t want proxy battles for control of franchises, with the winners able to move the team at will. And even if long-suffering small-market teams such as the Cleveland Browns or Buffalo Bills were allowed to copy the Packers’ ownership structure, it’s unlikely they could sustain it. Considering the current valuation of NFL franchises—about $1 billion each on average, according to Forbes—it would be hard to raise that kind of money without giving the shareholders a dividend or a potential to resell shares at a higher value.”
*Goodell was very grateful to the Packers Murphy for the way Murphy "handled" the players during the lockout
OFF SUBJECT (from same article)
“Given his history as a former player rep, Murphy took a surprisingly hard line. In an interview with the Freakonomics blog, Murphy said, discussing pensions and severance payouts for players whose careers are curtailed by injuries, “I really wonder, sometimes, if we do too much for the players.” He went on to state that they might make a smoother transition to their next careers if they had “an incentive to get a job.” NFLPA representatives were so angered by his comments that at one point they refused to negotiate if Murphy remained in the room.”
“The Packers occupy a unique niche in the NFL. It is hard to question their financial motives since there is no individual owner in Green Bay who stands to benefit from any particular league policy. Former Commissioner Tagliabue calls Green Bay’s position “moral purity or economic objectivity. Whatever it is, it is useful.” When it came time to getting the other owners to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement, Goodell dispatched Murphy, representing the morally “pure” Packers, to talk to them and explain the nuances of the deal. “He played a huge role in getting this done,” says Goodell. “A huge role.” “
*Is NFL a single entity or 32 separate competitive organizations (franchises)?
Website article from Christian Science Monitor (May 24, 2010)
“In a unanimous decision, the high court said the NFL could be sued by a former apparel supplier who claims the professional football league engaged in illegal restraint of trade by granting an exclusive licensing agreement to a single supplier for the league’s 32 teams.
A federal appeals court in Chicago had ruled earlier that the NFL’s teams were acting as a single entity in the licensing agreement and, thus, the league was immune from restraint of trade allegations. The former supplier, American Needle, Inc., appealed to the Supreme Court.”
The NFL, like MLB and the NBA, is a league that would shove every loyal, financially abused patron down an elevator shaft if it meant another nickel in TV money.
As a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, would you buy public team stock if it was ever offered?
Yes, absolutely without question! (15 votes)
Yes, though it depends on the cost and options (15 votes)
Possibly, I would at least consider it (7 votes)
No, because of the cost or lack of a vote (3 votes)
40 total votes