A lockout and Minnesota's lease

As a follow-up to Thursday morning's post on Minnesota's (mild) stadium momentum, we should address a topic I intended to hit at last month's owners meeting.

You're no doubt aware that the Vikings' lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season. You also know there is a reasonable threat of an NFL lockout before that season begins. So what happens in Minnesota if there is no 2011 season, or if its significantly shortened? Would the lease expiration be pushed back as a result?

That's what some of you have asked as coverage of the league's labor negotiations has ramped up. The significance of the question is mostly timing -- it would still be a matter of when, not if, the Vikings become franchise "free agents." But I asked around at the owners meeting nonetheless.

The short answer is no. While there could be some haggling between the NFL, the Vikings and the Metrodome officials about lost revenue, the lease itself is clear. Someone who was reading from the document told me it calls for expiration on Feb. 1, 2012.

Barring a mutually-agreed extension, that's the date the Vikings' obligation to play in the Metrodome will end. Lockout or not.