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Report: Vikings for Sale

October 29, 1997

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The Minnesota Vikings have secretly been on the market for at least two months, and board members already have entertained four out-of-state prospective buyers, according to a published report.

The suitors represent Los Angeles, Toronto, Birmingham, Ala., and another unidentified area, the Star Tribune reported in today’s editions. It is believed the unidentified bidder intends to keep the team in the Twin Cities.

Board members already have rejected a $150 million bid to purchase the team, Vikings vice chairman and part owner Philip Maas said.

Maas said the four potential buyers have visited the Twin Cities to meet with a three-person board of directors committee charged with entertaining offers and executing a sale.

The Vikings’ asking price is estimated to be between $150 million and $210 million, depending on how an offer is structured to include the team’s debt. No one potential buyer has emerged as a front-runner, a second team source said.

``There are definitely four groups that have come in and talked,″ said Maas, one of the team’s 10 principal owners. ``There are a number of us that feel an attempt should have been made in good faith to inform people of the sale, whether it was the Legislature or the stadium task force, or the people of Minnesota.

``There’s a lot of division among the board about what’s the right thing to do. What’s right for people and fans here, as opposed to those that want to maximize their investment.″

Team president Roger Headrick, reached Tuesday night in Atlanta where he attended the funeral of Atlanta Falcons owner Rankin Smith, declined to comment.

But Maas said the sale process needs to be announced in order to give the state an opportunity to generate a local buyer who will keep the team in Minnesota.

``If the Legislature or the task force are making funding decisions about a new stadium, they have a right to know what we’re thinking and doing,″ Maas said.

News of the Vikings being for sale overshadows the controversy surrounding coach Dennis Green’s threat to sue team owners in his recently published autobiography, ``No Room for Crybabies.″

In that book, Green sets forth a plan to purchase controlling 30 percent interest in the team, with the option of buying the remaining 70 percent within two years.

``Let’s not be naive _ the Minnesota Vikings are for sale right now,″ Green wrote.

According to the team source, at least four of the team’s board members are committed to ensuring that the Vikings stay in Minnesota. That effort will even include pushing for the current ownership group to accept less than the highest bid from an in-state buyer.

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