I was really looking forward to watching the NFL draft next week. Regardless of whether the Vikes picked Kalil or did some other manuevering, it seemed like there would be plenty of excitement. But given the vote on the stadium, it seems like potentially the best draft strategy is the one that optimizes for a good return on investment for a sale of the team. This might be a bit of an over-reaction on my part, but it certainly seems like something the Wilfs will need to consider. So the question is what kind of moves in the draft cause the best short-term financial outcome? Generally, these kinds of things are costs versus sale price. On the costs side, it's not clear how big the impact of the draft will be considering the total purchase and operations costs. Trading back should lower salaries a bit, but it's not obvious how much that really matters. I think sale price would largely be driven by the expected fan base, chances for winning and ease with which the buyer can fit the team to a particular revenue generation strategy. I think it's difficult to adopt a "win now" strategy at this point. The team is in the middle of re-building. While having some star players might help build a fan base quickly in a new city, I would guess that most new cities would be pretty excited just to have a team. So that leaves flexibility as probably the major variable the Vikings ownership can manipulate in the short term to raise the value for a potential buyer. While it's not clear that the one-year contracts offered to several players have anything to do with this strategy, it certainly helps to have them. And, this leads to my conclusion that possibly the best financial strategy for the Vikes in the draft is to trade out a lot in exchange for future year draft picks. If they trade with Miami and get a couple of number one picks in upcoming years, and possibly do the same thing to stockpile a couple of additional second round picks, that seems like it would be very appealing for new ownership. I can't imagine a better strategy for building fan excitement in a new team than having a bunch of exciting new young talent. And if the Vikings have a low operating cost and mostly flexible contract situations, it's easier for the Wilfs to argue for a higher purchase price. I know nothing about the way purchases of NFL teams really work. I'm really just guessing here. But owning an NFL team is a business, and business people need to make decisions that fit a business strategy. I'm probably over-reacting a bit, but I'm a little less excited about the 2012 draft now. Am I wrong to be thinking this way?
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