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Thursday, February 10, 2005
McCombs reportedly wants more than $600M

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Glen Taylor has never made a secret of his interest in buying the Minnesota Vikings. Lately, though, he seems especially keen to make sure owner Red McCombs doesn't forget about him.

In an interview Thursday, Taylor confirmed that he's increased the amount he's willing to pay for the team -- though he stopped short of specifying a figure.

"I think the income sources for the team are probably greater," said Taylor, alluding to the NFL's new television contract that will bring billions of more dollars to the league starting in 2006. "Overall, I just think all the values of all franchise are greater."

It's been widely reported that McCombs has asked $600 million for the team since placing it on the market in May 2002, and recent speculation has his price tag rising higher than that.

Taylor, who already owns the NBA Timberwolves, took a back seat when McCombs entered an exclusive negotiating period with Arizona entrepreneur Reggie Fowler. That's expected to last a few more weeks, and Taylor has made clear he's ready to move quickly if Fowler's bid falls through.

Taylor acknowledged Thursday that he's willing to pay more than the $450 million he originally offered about a year ago. He declined, however, to be specific about his current price range and said it would not be accurate to say he is currently offering $600 million.

"It depends on what I offer," said Taylor, who built his fortune from a Mankato printing company.

Pointing to the lack of progress on a replacement for the 22-year-old Metrodome -- where the Vikings' revenue is near the bottom of the league -- Taylor said he didn't think the franchise is necessarily a better investment for him now than it was before.

"For us, I think we have the same problem," Taylor said, referring to stalled stadium talks. "The entry barrier has been raised, if you want to get in."

Because of his previous experience as a state legislator and numerous connections in the local business community, Taylor said his ownership of the Vikings would probably give the 44-year-old franchise its best chance of a new place to play.

"I think it's most likely our best chance of getting it done," he said.

Of course, if Fowler is successful, it's a moot point.

"I won't do anything if Reggie gets a deal," Taylor said. "If that falls apart, I'm prepared to move."

Neither McCombs nor Fowler have returned phone calls for several weeks.