Vikings' new stadium will cost insane amount


Vikings' new stadium will cost insane amount

From Comcast SportsNet

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Now that the Minnesota Vikings will get their new stadium, the worrying can begin over a gambling expansion designed to pay the state's share of the 975 million project.

By passing the final stadium bill Thursday, lawmakers committed the state to raising 348 million by allowing electronic pull-tabs and bingo in bars and restaurants. The financing plan drew skepticism on the bill's way through the Legislature, prompting the sponsors to include backup measures in case the pull-tab dollars don't materialize, including a lottery game and luxury suite taxes.

Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign the stadium bill into law after serving as its chief cheerleader. Backers pushed it through the Legislature after years of failed attempts, despite opposition from no-new-spending Republicans, liberal Democrats and even the top House Republican, Speaker Kurt Zellers. Lawmakers were on the receiving end of an intense outpouring of support from Vikings fans, while the state's business leaders and labor unions also put their clout behind the project. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak brought 150 million from his city to the table, subject to a City Council vote later this month.

But money questions were on the sidelines Thursday as Vikings fans celebrated the bill's passage. In the Senate gallery, fans broke out in a rendition of the ''Skol Vikings!'' fight song, earning a reprimand from the Senate secretary.

''Let's build it!'' shouted Vikings vice president Lester Bagley, the team executive who spent much of the past decade lobbying for the nearly 1 billion stadium. The new stadium will be built on the downtown Minneapolis site of the 30-year-old Metrodome, an inflatable bubble-topped building the Vikings argued did not generate enough revenue for the team to compete.

On Thursday, the Vikings and the University of Minnesota announced they have reached preliminary agreement on the Vikings' use of TCF Bank Stadium during construction of a new Vikings stadium. Under the agreement, the Vikings will pay the university a fixed fee of 250,000 per game. The combined rent and expected concessions and sponsorship revenue that the Vikings would share with the university would amount to 300,000 per game, or 3 million per regular NFL season. The Board of Regents takes up the agreement Friday, and university President Eric Kaler could sign the letter of intent in the next few days.

The Senate vote capped an amazing comeback for the Vikings' stadium dreams, which just a few weeks ago were fizzling before a visit from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell crystallized fears that the Vikings could leave the state without a new home.

At a celebratory news conference, owner Zygi Wilf recalled when he and his brother Mark first took ownership of the team nearly seven years ago and being asked whether they would move the team.

''We kept on fighting that this day would come, and it's here today,'' Wilf said.

Dayton publicly thanked the Wilfs for agreeing to a 50 million bump in their share in final negotiations this week.

''Without your willingness to take that last step, we wouldn't have crossed the goal line,'' the governor said.

The stadium project - with 51 percent of the construction cost covered by taxpayers - comes after years of state deficits and spending cuts to schools, health care and other programs. The state is currently in the black, but a 1 billion-plus deficit is projected for the two-year budget that starts in mid-2013.

''When this doesn't work, it's money right out of schools, right out of welfare, right out of health care, right out of you name it - everything we spend money on,'' said Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, before he cast a vote against the project.

Opponents on both sides of the political spectrum predicted that the state is likely to further expand gambling if the electronic pull-tabs - now just a low-tech paper game offered in bars and restaurants - don't bring in enough money.

''They'll want to double down on the bad deal. We've created a monster here,'' said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, leader of the conservative faction within the GOP Senate caucus.

Stadium supporters noted that the final deal required the team to round up 477 million from private sources, 50 million more than originally promised.

Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, said he is confident the gambling money will come through. The bill envisions the new electronic games bringing in 59 million a year in tax revenue by 2014. But if tax collections end up being lower, a sports-themed lottery game and a 10 percent suite tax would kick in. Together the two measures would raise 4 million a year, Magnus said.

''Certainly there are a lot of folks that are never going to support any stadium no matter if a fairy godmother dropped one next door to us,'' said Magnus, who participated in a legislative group that worked behind the scenes on a bill for two years.

Over the long term, supporters also expect the stadium to be a good deal for the state. Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, said he expects the return on the state's investment to be substantial over time. The Metrodome was built for 55 million, including 33 million in public money, and ended up bringing in hundreds of millions in tax revenue over the past three decades. Harrington said he voted yes on the stadium to help put people to work.

''I have 20 percent unemployment on the east side of St. Paul,'' he said. ''I need every job in this bill that we can possibly come up with.''

The deal guarantees the Vikings' future in Minnesota for three decades. Bagley said the team's billionaire owners, New Jersey developers Zygi and Mark Wilf, supported the final plan, even with the additional private cost, because time was running out. Senate passage came on the last day the Legislature was allowed to take votes.

''It's a good deal for the state, it's a good deal for our fans and it's a good deal for Minneapolis. It's a fair deal,'' Bagley said.

The Vikings intend to take advantage of an NFL loan program, sell naming rights and possibly impose seat license fees to help cover the team's end of construction costs. They will be bound by a 30-year lease on the stadium and pay about 13 million a year in operating fees. Minneapolis will kick in about 7 million a year for operating costs, and a public authority will have the power to rent the stadium on non-game days for concerts, conventions and special events such as monster truck rallies.

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Best unrestricted free-agent shooting guards to help Wizards back up Bradley Beal

Best unrestricted free-agent shooting guards to help Wizards back up Bradley Beal

John Wall and Bradley Beal were uniform in their message about where the Wizards were lacking in 2016-17, and it was the backups in a 49-win season. 

In a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Wizards relied on Beal for 45 minutes and Wall, who shot 0-for-11 in tthe second half, for 44. 

Yesterday, it was point guards. Let's focus on the shooting guards behind Beal today. Coach Scott Brooks was in a bind with Marcus Thornton earlier in the season, who was an unreliable shooter and a loose cannon on defense. After a disastrous road trip to begin 2017, Thornton didn't play the next 21 games before being traded. Rookie Sheldon Mac (name legally changed from McClellan) had his moments but Brooks played him out of necessity. He didn't believe he was ready and often Mac was out of position such as going over the top of screens on non-shooters like Rajon Rondo.

None of the ball-handling point guards, Trey Burke and Brandon Jennings, were big enough to play the two spot. And the one player who was, 6-7 rookie Tomas Satoransky, was too raw and not a good enough shooter yet.

Brooks resorted to using forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Otto Porter in small lineups in Beal's spot but ideally a true two-guard would occupy it. 

The Wizards don't have a lot of cap room so whoever they bring in has to be relatively affordable and willing to accept a backup role. If they require starters' minutes or money, they're not viable option with Beal firmly in place.  

Here are some options...

5. Ian Clark (Warriors): How much of what you see out of the fourth-year guard is because he plays on the best team in the West? He appeared in 77 games, averaged 15 minutes and 6.8 points while shooting 37.4% from three-point range. At 26, he's by far the youngest on this list and likely has the highest ceiling while the others have reached theirs. Clark earned just $1 million and his departure isn't going to make or break Golden State. What kind of player would he be if he played 22-24 minutes per game? It's all an educated guess and if he's available he's worth asking about because he could be the least expensive, too.

[RELATED: Top free agent point guards who could help Wizards, Wall]

4. Tony Allen (Grizzlies): Offensively, he's always a liability. The worst defenders on the opponent end up marking Allen who isn't strong off the dribble especially when having to change directions or pulling up. But he sure can defend, even at 35, and take on the toughest assignment every night. Allen doesn't need the ball to change the tone of a game and is content with getting his buckets off hustle plays and in transition. He played for $5 million though he had injury issues in averaging 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds. The 6-4 guard only shot 27.8% from three but 46.1% overall as he got most of his offensive going to the rim..

3. Tyreke Evans (Pelicans/Kings): Good size at 6-5 but not the most efficient shooter. Evans has been a point guard and can score, though the 2010 Rookie of the Year had a hefty $10.2 million pricetag. He hasn't won anywhere and posted averages of 10.1 points and just 40.5% overall shooting. He was a starter in his first seven NBA seasons before adapting to a sixth-man role. How much he'd cost and if he values starting or winning would be the key areas to figure out. He shoots jsut 30% from three for his career but has improved.

2. Kyle Korver (Hawks/Cavs): The 6-6 shooter averaged 10.1 points and shot 45.1% from three-point range even though he's slowing down as he usually has been an above-average defender. Still, at $5.2 million he could be a worthwhile commitment despite being 36. Korver can be a spot starter in the event of injury to a player such as Beal or give him a break on nights when he doesn't have it going. 

1. J.J. Redick (Clippers): Good size at 6-4, a fantastic shooter and worked tirelessly to make himself into a credible defender since turning pro 11 years ago. Redick made $7.3 million, averaging 15 points on 43% shooting from three-point range in 78 starts. Redick is lethal on catch-and-shoots. He made a career-high 47.5% from three a year ago. But he's 34 next month and will probably command a nice raise because shooters of his caliber are needed on every team worth its salt. Of course, a chance at a championship could convince him to take less or playing next to Wall might be incentive enough. Redick has been a starter since joining the Clippers in 2013 after being a reserve every season before that. 

[RELATED: Kevin Durant's legacy won't be secured with just one NBA title]

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Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Trent Murphy enjoyed the best season of his NFL career in 2016, delivering nine sacks for the Redskins. The excitement took a blow in the offseason, however, as the NFL suspended the former Stanford star for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Murphy will miss the first four games of the Redskins season, and the news devastated Murphy. 

"It was extremely disappointing to find out. It’s kind of like a gut-wrenching feeling," he said. "Took me by total surprise."

He spoke Wednesday for the first time since the suspension became official in April. With an early bye week for Washington, the four-game punishment will actually mean Murphy does not take the field for the Redskins until Week 6 against the 49ers.

A second-round pick in 2014, Murphy registered only six sacks his first two seasons in the NFL before last season's breakout performance. Six of his nine sacks came in the first seven weeks of 2016, and Murphy's production slid late in the year as he battled a serious foot injury. 

Without Murphy for the first month, the Redskins will lean heavily on Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. All three players logged more than 400 snaps last season in pass rushing situations, with Kerrigan going nearly 500 snaps. The team also added outside linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second round of the 2017 draft, he could push for playing time right away, especially with Murphy unable to suit up. If he remains healthy, Junior Galette could also be an option at edge pass rusher, though after missing the past two seasons the Redskins would be smart to limit his offseason work.

For Murphy, the time off will hurt but he will remain focused on football.

"I kind of moved on the only way I could, which was just to get back to work," he said. "The people that are closest with you know your character, know where you come from, they’ll always be by your side. My team has rallied around me, they’ve been very supportive so I’m just going to do the best I can to recover from this."


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