LINKDespite rumors of an imminent sale, Vikings owner Red McCombs said Friday there are no serious suitors for his football team.
His comment was his most emphatic statement on the subject in months.
"We're playing football. If someone can show me a reasonable chance to build a stadium, then I would take that into serious consideration about selling this team," the Texas car dealer and communications industry investor said. "But up to this point, I haven't seen anyone come forth at all."
Asked if there's any viable ownership group out there at all, McCombs answered, "Nope."
"To say nothing would ever happen is not realistic," he added later, "but there's nothing happening now."
McCombs quickly dismissed Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler and Gateway Inc. founder Ted Waitt as possible suitors, adding of the latter, "I don't even know the man."
McCombs put his team up for sale two years ago, after which he talked with several individuals, including separate talks with Fowler and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. Waitt reportedly was interested in being part of an ownership group at one time.
Taylor, with the help of Wild chief executive Jac Sperling, wants to buy the team and work out a stadium deal with Minnesota lawmakers. But McCombs' comment Friday seems to indicate the two sides are not close.
McCombs is said to want $600 million for the team, a number Taylor contends is much too high without a new stadium to boost revenues. Taylor — who some lawmakers believe could win a stadium easier than McCombs — could not be reached for comment.
McCombs' asking price was affirmed by Forbes magazine, which Thursday estimated the Vikings' value at $604 million, a 146 percent increase over 1998, when McCombs paid $246 million for the team.
"I don't set the price," McCombs said matter-of-factly. "The market sets the price. There's no question that NFL franchises have become more valuable, and they'll continue to increase in value. It's a good business model."
McCombs declined to say what his franchise is worth, but added: "If we were to get the right kind of an approach, then I would feel very comfortable in ascertaining that myself."
But he said he doesn't expect any serious suitors, and he's not about to give anyone a discount on this club.
"I make my gifts to the United Way each year," McCombs said.
McCombs took the opportunity to lament his lack of progress toward a new stadium.
"I'm as far away from a new facility today as I was five years ago," he said. He continued to stress the Vikings' need to improve their revenue streams to stay competitive with other NFC North teams, all of which are playing in new or upgraded homes.
The issue is expected to come up again this winter at the state Capitol, where Gov. Tim Pawlenty is in favor of new stadiums for the Vikings and the Twins.