Zygi’s PR Hail Mary Puts Vikings In The Game

In the political world, there is something much worse than being opposed. It’s called being ignored.

And until Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and his team showed their teeth this week, they were being roundly ignored by the Legislature. The billionaire not only couldn’t get half a billion bucks from the Legislature, he couldn’t get a hearing, a cup of coffee, or a sideways glance.

But when the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission only offered Zygi millions in post-season revenues as he waits for his much bigger taxpayer financed pay day, the wounded Wilf howled.

“Shocked, exasperated, and extremely disappointed,” the Vikings penned to the Commission.

Holy moly! Shocked, exasperated AND extremely disappointed? As every good corporate communications toady knows, the Three Adjective Smackdown (TAS) is the WMD of business communications world. And today, the Vikings unleashed another rhetorical blitz, with sly talk about the need to “move on,” which of course is just two scary letters away from “move out.”

Finally, Zygi is flashing his New Jersey for us. Though he is speaking genteel corporatese, he is making it crystal clear that he is making an offer we can’t refuse.

And it’s working. Some are hating on Zygi to be sure, but he is no longer being ignored. Zygi has led the local news, and national sports news, for two days. He has DFL Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Keliher talking about a “purple ribbon commission” to study the issue. (Sure, it’s just her way of not taking a position during the gubernatorial campaign, but it’s more than the cold shoulder Wilf had been getting.)

And today, Wilf’s tantrum has generated follow-up stories about the mythical prospects of the LA Vikings Scenario, which has the purple face-paint types curled up in a fetal position. All that buzz has made Wilf’s well-timed whining the week’s top “talker” on local radio stations.

Wilf is a long, long way from winning. To get out of the big Teflon dome in Minneapolis, he is going to need to get a lot better at operating under the big gold dome in St. Paul. But he will eventually win, and the PR move he put on the pols this week was nearly as nifty as the move Purple Jesus put on the 49ers to find an obscure receiver in the back of the end zone. Skoal Vikings!

– Loveland

expense nice

20 thoughts on “Zygi’s PR Hail Mary Puts Vikings In The Game

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    Hey, that’s one clip that never gets old! So does the tax-payer ultimately cough up the support? And the Wilf’s, likely with every conceivable PR ploy in their arsenal–including investing to create highly entertaining and competitive team– have continually failed to convince. What are they doing wrong? If you or I owned the Vikes under these recalcitrant circumstances we would choose to move it. No?

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    I’m no expert, but I don’t think the LA bogeyman is real. If LA does finally get a team, I have to believe either Jacksonville, Buffalo, San Diego or St. Louis would be a better candidate than the Vikings. The Vikes are an otherwise successful franchise. Tickets selling and gear are selling, and it is the most popular franchise in a state that has been dutifully building taxpayer-backed palaces for other owners. That doesn’t sound like a club that would be on the top of the NFL’s hit list.

    The Twins, Gophers, Wild and Wolves all got their’s. The Vikes have had to wait in line because a) their need wasn’t as big as others (i.e. the Dome was designed as a football stadium and they had a longer-term lease); b) their stadium’s price tag is MUCH higher than the others, which makes it much harder to execute a financing deal; and c) there was no appetite to finance the stadia all at once.

    And now that the Wilf’s are finally at the front of the line, the State is in arguably the worst economic shape in our history. So, it’s not happening right away, but I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t happen in the next few years.

    1. PM says:

      Yeah, probably shortly after the gubernatorial elections. All of the pols just want to keep this debate off the table during an election cycle–they will be telling Zygi to be patient and to lay low–none of them want to be forced to take a public position either pro or con on this issue–they all know it will eventually be done, but who wants to be seen putting taxpayer dollars in the pockets of zillionaires from NJ or millionaire players who get their kicks on Lake Minnetonka with strippers (when they are not torturing helpless animals). Not a good thing to have to explain up on the Range….

  3. Dennis Lang says:

    Didn’t notice this before but “new comments” are now being conveyed to “subscribers” with a stunningly modern and artful look! Very sophisticated. No off-switch for invention at the Crowd. Now can hardly wait for the next entry from Newt.

  4. Joe Loveland says:

    If I were a rich guy, I’d buy the naming rights and call the new joint something simple, like Vikings Field, just so I would never again have to hear anyone say “Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (MOAF@HHHMD).” What a train wreck of a name. But alas, I’m not a rich guy, and never will become one with such foolish instincts and daydreams.

    1. Expatriate says:

      It could be worse.

      St. James’ Park, the home of Newcastle United, has been one of the hallowed grounds of English football since the late 1800s. Wrigley, Fenway, Yankee — you get the idea.

      The current club owner (not a popular guy at the moment anyway) tried this year to sell naming rights, infuriating club supporters. Many British stadia bear corporate sponsor names, so it’s not unheard of there. But messing with this one touched nerves aplenty.

      In any case, they found no sponsors. So, this month, to “showcase” the sponsorship opportunity, they decided to apply the name of the owner’s business to the venerable SJP name.

      St. James’ Park is now called this — exactly:

      sportsdirect.com @ St James’ Park Stadium

      Well, then. Form an orderly queue, prospective sponsors.

      A football writer for the Times, in one of my favorite sentences in journalism this year, wrote, “The fans are incandescent.”

  5. Expatriate says:

    Incidentally, Loveland, it’s “Skol, Vikings” — without the “a.” Unless that’s been bought, too.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      MK– If I follow the argument of Loveland and PM we’re in for far more than bickering. Looks like the cause to ignite political warfare. Any politician courageous enough to have the Vikes leave on their watch?

    2. PM says:

      MK–i agree. I much prefer the Twins to the Vikes. More games, more people who get to watch, etc. And, frankly, I think that the Twin Cities are too small of a town to support major league baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. probably only 3 can survive long term. basketball seems the obvious one to lose, but maybe the circumstances will dictate the vikings.

  6. Joe says:

    Twins v. Vikings. That’s a Sophies Choice. I enjoy the Twins more, but get more worked up about the Vikings. I’d kick the Wild off the Island first, then the Woves. After that, Id pay the ransom for both the Purple and the Twins.

  7. Joe Loveland says:

    The whole episode last week is pretty nutty when you step back and think about it. The government tells the billionaire they will allow him to use a taxpayer-financed facility rent FREE. As if that isn’t enough, the government also tells the billionaire they will give him all post-season revenues the taxpayer-owned facility generates!

    Most business people would be flabbergasted to be offered such a sweetheart deal by their government. But in the coddled world of professional sports, the response is “how dare you for not also immediately guaranteeing a new billion dollar facility!”

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      True. In the context of years of conversations and the requirements of big-time pro sports the gesture was not only meaningless it was insulting. Looks like the game has its own rules and high stakes if you want a piece of the action. Do we?

  8. Newt says:

    Zygmut is not getting a free stadium – not in this economy, not in this state.

    If the NFL can’t sustain a pro football team in a thriving metropolitan area of 3 million people, it’s best to let them go.

    It also would give us cause to rally behind the Gophers and force the Board of Regents to establish a real D-I program.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Good point about the Gophers Newt. Watching the imcompetance of that offense was agonizing –like a train wreck. Before long had to avert your eyes. However, I think the Board believes they are establishing a D-1 program. Dumping Brewster now simply returns us to square one. I expect he’ll make scapegoats of many of the coaches he’s responsible for hiring. A mess.

  9. bruce benidt says:

    I’ll take my lawn chair to the Iowa or South Dakota border, pour myself a rum & Coke and wave goodbye to Mr. Wilf and the gladiators.

    “Bye Bye,” I said happily to the North Stars when their owner tried blackmail, then falling on the floor of his room and crying, to get the state to pay for a new arena. The only damage done to the state by losing its professional-wrestling-team-on-blades was that it gave Norm Coleman an opening to bring hockey back and skate into the Senate.

    “Bye Bye” I’ll happily say to the Vikings. Let them leave town before the medical bill comes due on all the brains they’ve squashed with reckless abandon. I don’t feel any need to spend a single penny increasing for rich white men the value of a franchise that feeds on violence, that runs a plantation that draws young men away from classrooms or reasonable expectations of life and slams them into one another for our enjoyment. Build your own damn stadium. Whine and good bye!

    I know journalists aren’t in the business of just purveying good news — but look at today’s Strib. Wilf’s whining and the smart PR strategy Joe and y’all are talking about got him on the front page. On the cover of the suburban section is a story that really matters — young people teaching other young people in Teach For America.

    If the Vikings take their concussions and skull fractures elsewhere, maybe we’ll pay a little attention to real futures for our kids.

    Now…. none of this applies to the Twins, of course. Baseball is a religion, and we won’t fight about religion on this blog again, so soon.

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