Hartman: Vikings, Twins require patience in new stadiums

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2013 - 7:59 AM
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Vikings owners Zygi Wilf, center, and Mark Wilf were prominent Tuesday at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the billion-dollar Vikings stadium. In question is whether their team will be prominent soon in the NFL.

The Vikings broke ground on their new $1 billion stadium on Tuesday, a mere three years after the Twins opened their new $545 million building at Target Field in 2010.

Still, the last time the Vikings reached the Super Bowl was in 1976, losing to the Oakland Raiders, and the last time the Twins reached the World Series was 1991, when they defeated the Atlanta Braves in seven games.

So with the two teams having a number of losing seasons in the recent past, you have to wonder: Which team has the best chance to win a championship in the near future?

The Vikings reached the playoffs last year after going 10-6 but lost 24-10 in the wild-card round to the Packers. This year they are 3-8-1 and are guaranteed a losing season. In 2010 and 2011, the team went a combined 9-23, including 3-13 in 2011, tying a franchise-worst mark.

The Twins haven’t reached the playoffs since their inaugural season at Target Field, when they went 94-68 in 2010 and lost in the first round to the Yankees. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2002 and have gone a combined 195-291 over the past three seasons.

Both teams have a bankable star — the Twins with former MVP Joe Mauer and the Vikings with last year’s NFL MVP Adrian Peterson — and both are still in their prime.

One thing going in the Twins’ favor is that, for the first time in franchise history, they have invested a tremendous amount of money in free-agent pitching with their four-year, $49 million contract for Ricky Nolasco and their three-year, $24 million deal with Phil Hughes.

The Vikings under the Wilf family always have been big free-agent spenders, and that likely will continue with their new stadium deal. They also most likely will get a very good pick in next year’s draft, unless they finish the season on a big winning streak, which isn’t likely.

Both teams have a number of question marks. The Twins have lost standouts Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel in recent years, and it seems as if star prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are at least a year away from being major contributors to the big league club.

The Vikings continue to have questions at quarterback while trying to figure out who will be their long-term starter, and there’s no guarantee that the team won’t completely abandon the current group of quarterbacks and take another passer with a high draft pick after this season.

The Vikings also have a number of free agents who have been major stars or contributors for the team in the past who might not be here next season, including Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Charlie Johnson, Toby Gerhart, Chris Cook and quarterbacks Matt Cassel and the recently acquired Josh Freeman, who had some good seasons with Tampa Bay.

I’m guessing the Twins will have no chance to reach the World Series next season and the same will be true of the Vikings and the Super Bowl.

And while attendance for the Vikings never wavers much, no matter the team’s record, winning might be important for the Twins to keep on drawing fans.

Stopping Flacco key for Vikings

For the Vikings to beat the Ravens on Sunday they will have to be able to put pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was asked what impresses him about the Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

“I think his growth, his maturity, his confidence, too. Here’s a guy that turned down an extension to go play a year, won the Super Bowl and got super paid, good for him,’’ Allen said. “You can tell the way he grows, his presence of leadership obviously. He’s an elite quarterback, he really is. He knows how to extend the play. He reminds me a lot of [Ben] Roethlisberger. He’s not the most mobile guy, but he knows how to work that pocket and angles and find lanes and ways to create plays downfield.”

Kill on redshirts in 2014

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