Jones lobbies for new Vikings stadium
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jerry Jones has something Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf wants, and it's not just the Super Bowl rings on Jones' fingers.
The Dallas Cowboys owner has opened his brand new, $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium to rave reviews from everyone but punters this preseason.
Wilf is trying to get public financing help for a new stadium on the site of the current Metrodome, where the Vikings lease is set to expire in 2011. He has had little to no luck so far getting momentum generated from lawmakers, and Jones said the situation is growing more urgent.
"Right now we are subsidizing this market," said Jones, one of the most influential owners in the league. "It's unthinkable to think that you've got the market you've got here, with 3.5 million people, and have teams like Kansas City and Green Bay subsidizing this market. That will stop. That's going to stop. That's called revenue sharing. That's on its way out."
The outdated Metrodome is the biggest reason the Vikings are near the bottom of the league in revenue. That hasn't stopped Wilf from pouring millions into the team on the field, including signing quarterback Brett Favre on Aug. 18 and making Jared Allen the highest-paid defensive player in history.
Wilf is hoping that considerable investment pays off, both with a Super Bowl and a new, retractable roof Metrodome. He's pledged millions to the project, but so far has been unable to come up with public money to help finance it.
"I realize it's a difficult and complex problem," Wilf said before his Vikings faced the Cowboys in the preseason finale on Friday night. "The most important thing is we bring everyone together to try to find a solution."
Jones got public help to build his football palace, and he said a public-private partnership is essential to make it work.
"The leadership have got to recognize that you cannot build one unless you have contributions. You've got to have some help from the public," Jones said. "You've got to have some help from your fans. And you've got to be willing to make a big commitment financially. The Wilfs are doing that."
Zygi Wilf has never threatened to move the team, but Jones said revenue sharing will likely decrease significantly, if not disappear altogether, when the collective bargaining agreement expires after next season.
That means the Vikings would be at a huge financial disadvantage unless they can get a new, revenue-producing stadium built; one that would likely, Jones said, bring a Super Bowl and other major events to the Twin Cities, just as Cowboys Stadium has done for Dallas.
"It doesn't need to happen here in Minnesota," Jones said. "It's too important here for the Minnesota Vikings to just fade away."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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