2 minute read

Reggie Fowler

Met The Press

Rumors first surfaced in August of 2004 that a relatively unknown Arizona businessman was interested in buying the Minnesota Vikings. The team was owned by Red McCombs, who had tried for several years to strike a deal with Minneapolis-St. Paul-area civic authorities to build a new stadium to replace the Vikings' home turf at the Metrodome. There was intense local opposition in the Twin Cities for a taxpayer-subsidized deal, especially since the Vikings had proven to be one of the most profitable teams in NFL. There were even hints that the team might pack up and move to Los Angeles. But after their 2004 season began, rumors of a sale died down, since teams rarely change hands during the NFL season. The rumors surfaced again in January, and on Valentine's Day of 2005, Fowler wired McCombs's office a $20 million deposit.

Later that day, Fowler and McCombs appeared at a press conference to discuss the pending sale, which was subject to clearing several other hurdles before it could be finalized. The team's price tag was thought to be $625 million, and the Vikings franchise had been valued at $604 million in 2004 by Forbes magazine. Fowler was not the only buyer, though he was the majority owner, or general partner. His limited partners were a pair of real-estate developers from the New York area: Alan B. Landis, once the part-owner of the National Basketball League Association's New Jersey Nets; Zyggi Wilf, whose Garden Commercial Properties firm had expressed some interest in a potential stadium construction project for the Vikings; and David Mandelbaum, a real estate attorney, also from the New York area.

At the press conference announcing Fowler's agreement to buy the team, he stressed there were no plans to relocate the Vikings to Los Angeles or anywhere else. In fact, he said, it would be he that moved to the Twin Cities. "I want you all to know that this is probably the greatest day of my life," Saint Paul Pioneer Press writer Sean Jensen quoted him as saying that day. "I'm excited to be here in the Twin Cities, the state of Minnesota, to let you know that we are here to, No. 1, acquire your team and hopefully put the team back into the hands of the state of Minnesota and let you know that we're committed to being here." There were many questions put to Fowler about potentially becoming the first black owner of an NFL team, but he deflected attention away from the issue. "I think it's a great thing," New York Times writer Richard Lezin Jones quoted him as saying in response to a question about the historic first. "I'm happy that I'm black. As James Brown says, 'Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud.' That really doesn't play a big part to me, I just happen to be black."

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Trevor Edwards Biography - Accepted Wisdom from His Mother to Francisco Franco (1892–1975) BiographyReggie Fowler - Tried Out For Bengals, Met The Press, Admitted Errors In Biography, Black Coaches Voted Their Approval