MSFA ratifies Vikings stadium development and use agreements

MINNEAPOLIS — The board overseeing construction of the Vikings’ new stadium took a long-awaited, crucial step in the $975 million structure’s development Thursday, signing off on two important documents that lay out its construction and lease terms.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority ratified the 65,000-seat football cathedral’s development and use agreements. The first outlines the stadium’s highly-detailed financing and building plans, and the second acts as a lease between the team and the MSFA.

Now that the authority has passed both of them, the Vikings have until Nov. 2 to completely finalize their funding for the project. Assuming that deadline is met, the state can issue associated bonds for its portion, and workers can break ground in mid-November.

It’s a date that’s been pushed back twice — first from late October to early November, then from early to mid-November — but isn’t expected to affect the stadium’s ultimate completion date. The bulk of construction work can’t begin until the Vikings’ season concludes, anyway.

When it does, demolition of the Metrodome and erecting its replacement can proceed. The team, meanwhile, will set up shop at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium for the next two seasons.

If all goes as planned, the Vikings will move into their state-of-the-art new home in time for the 2016 NFL season.

MSFA chair Michele Kelm-Helgen had originally hoped to have the use and development accords taken care of by last Friday, Sept. 27. But continued negotiations with the Vikings over outstanding issues, including lease particulars and personal seat licenses, caused them to delay their meeting until Thursday.

According to the development agreement, the MSFA will own the stadium while the Vikings serve as its primary tenant. It also outlines details of stadium financing: the Vikings will contribute $477 million (much of which will be financed by a loan from the NFL and personal seat licenses), the state is chipping in $348 million, and the city has agreed to pay $150 million.

Gov. Mark Dayton has expressed displeasure with owner Zygi Wilf and his family — whose involvement in a New Jersey lawsuit caused the MSFA to launch a process-delaying probe into the team’s stadium financing plans — and the use of personal seat licenses, revenues from which will comprise about $100 million of the Vikings’ portion of the stadium bill.

But the governor-appointed authority was satisfied with its findings and spent the last few weeks hashing out a PSL plan it feels is fair to fans wishing to make the investment. Approximately 48,750 — 75 percent — of the stadium’s seats will require these one-time fees on top of season ticket prices.

PSL costs will be capped at $10,000 and could cost as low as $500-$1,000, according to Kelm-Helgen.

The use agreement dictates an initial 30-year lease. The Vikings will pay $8.5 million for the first year, and that number will increase by 3 percent each subsequent year.

The MSFA retains sole responsibility and revenue associated with hosting non-Vikings events at the new stadium — state football championships, college and high school baseball, concerts, etc.

When the Vikings are playing inside the indoor, glass-encased palace, they’ll receive all revenues from tickets, suites, concessions, advertising signage and merchandise. The team will also sell naming rights for the stadium, another method for financing their cut.

Hosting international games like the one Minnesota just played in London won’t happen very often. The use agreement calls for three international games during the first 15 years of the lease and three more during the second 15 years. Last week’s game in London game counts against the Vikings’ three in the first 15 years of the lease.

The Vikings are down to six outings left in the Metrodome, a place they’ve called home since 1982. The final game day there will be Dec. 29 against the Lions, unless Minnesota (1-3) puts together a remarkable turnaround and hosts a playoff game.

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