Now that the Vikings are set to play the 2014 and 2015 seasons at TCF Bank Stadium while their new stadium is being built, Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said it was a blessing in disguise when the Metrodome roof collapsed in December of 2010 because that gave the team the opportunity to play one game at the Gophers’ stadium.
“That got us a better understanding of the building, the operations, the football element of the stadium,” Bagley said, “as well as the relationships that we have with the university leadership that have really paved the way for this agreement that we were able to reach to play our 2014 and 2015 seasons at TCF Bank Stadium.”
However, Bagley said that while TCF Bank Stadium is a “spectacular” college football stadium, it is not an NFL stadium.
“We learned that there is limitations and challenges at TCF Bank Stadium that we’re going to have to roll with,” he said. “The good news is we have a brand-new stadium coming and opening in 2016. But we had to learn capacity issues. They have about 50,000 seats, we have 52,000 season-ticket owners.
“They have a limited number of suites. There’s an alcohol issue in terms of selling beer at the games that we had to work with. We have sponsorships, they’re a Coke university and we’re a Pepsi team. Those are all things that we had to sort through with the university and we knew going in that there were challenges because of our one game a couple years ago because of the dome roof collapse.
“But we’ve agreed on the compensation and the use agreement and how we’ll benefit the university and reimburse the university, cover all the capital improvements as well as the gameday expenses. In addition, we’ll pay $2.5 million in rent and another $500,000 in sponsorship opportunities, so a $3 million annual figure.
“Capacity of the stadium is another problem, but the good news is the university is motivated to help us do that.”
In working with some of the unhappy neighbors who opposed the Vikings’ use of the stadium, the Wilf family, owners of the team, are making a contribution to help improve the area.
“We started about a year ago meeting with the neighborhood groups,” Bagley said. “And in the agreement itself … there is also the establishment of a neighborhood fund each year of $90,000 in cash and $35,000 in-kind to do things like tree planting in the neighborhoods that need it, and [helping to improve] where kids can get access to playgrounds.”
Bagley said the Vikings also plan to use their marketing arm to help the businesses in the stadium area.
“We have millions of people that visit our website every month,” Bagley said. “We have 1.4 million Facebook followers. We have 250,000 Twitter followers. We have 70,000 e-mails of ticket owners and fans that we can communicate with directly about being good neighbors, being good partners, but also supporting some of the organizations and the businesses that surround the university and TCF Bank Stadium.”
New Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders spent most of the past two days talking basketball with coach Rick Adelman. By the time the Wolves coach left, Saunders said he believed Adelman would return to coach the team next season.
“Until I hear otherwise, I anticipate he’ll be back,” Saunders said. “When I talked to him, he just said, ‘I plan on being back.’
“It was great [talking with him], we had great conversations. We talked about the team and evaluated players that we had on the team. We talked about staff a little bit; we talked a lot about the rosters of other teams and what we needed to move forward. We had a really good, extensive talk.”
Adelman also told Saunders he wants to bring back his coaching staff.
• Finances played a part in the release of Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who was scheduled to be paid $1.45 million this season. The new punter, fifth-round draft choice Jeff Locke of UCLA, will be paid a little more than $450,000.
• Through the first 18 games of the season, Justin Morneau was hitting .236 with only six walks compared to 10 strikeouts and one home run with nine RBI in 72 at-bats. But through his past 11 games, the first baseman has turned things around, hitting .318 with one home run, 12 RBI and three doubles in 44 at-bats.
• Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is going to have jaw surgery in a couple of days and will be out for about five or six weeks. He’s going to have the same surgery teammate Kevin Love had during the summer of 2011.
• Former Gophers star and baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield will be the commencement speaker for the Class of 2013 and receive an honorary degree from Concordia (St. Paul) University on Friday. Winfield is being honored for his pioneering work in athletic charitable acts, including the Winfield Foundation.
• That was Klay Thompson, the son of former Gophers basketball All-America Mychal Thompson, who had one of the greatest NBA playoff games in history Wednesday night. Klay scored 34 points on 13-for-26 shooting — including going 8-for-9 from three-point range — and grabbed 14 rebounds in Golden State’s 100-91 victory over the Spurs, the Warriors’ first victory in San Antonio since Feb. 14, 1997 (a 30-loss streak). The only other guards to score as many as 34 points and grab as many as 14 rebounds in an NBA playoff game are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter.
• Former Chaska basketball standout Jake White has officially signed to play with Nebraska-Omaha starting in 2014-2015. Since he transferred from Wichita State following their Final Four run, he will have to sit out a season.
• Twins prospect Byron Buxton is hitting .368 with 24 RBI, 31 runs scored, seven doubles, five home runs and three triples in 29 games for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He is currently third in the Midwest League in batting average, tied for fifth in RBI and first in runs scored.
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