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Continued: Sid Hartman: Dayton will push for stadium this session

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 25, 2011 - 7:12 AM

Don't be surprised if there is talk of a hotel and car rental tax in the Legislature in the next few days to help finance a new Vikings stadium.

And there still is a possibility that Hennepin County, with income from the sales tax paying for Target Field going well, would get involved in helping the Vikings, too.

Despite everything you hear about Arden Hills, the best bet for the site of a stadium is still the Metrodome area, where the cost would be a lot less than it would anywhere else.

I'd imagine that the Wilf family would be very disappointed if a Vikings stadium bill isn't passed in this session of the Legislature.

Gov. Mark Dayton has promised the Vikings owners that he will do everything in his power to get a stadium bill passed in this session. And Dayton has made it clear that he feels strong for the need of a covered stadium not only for the 10 days the Vikings will use it but also to attract other events such as NCAA basketball tournaments.

There is a lot of work being done behind the scenes to try and get a stadium bill passed, with some of the top business executives in the Twin Cities doing what they can do to help.

I don't believe that Zygi Wilf and his family would move the team themselves. However, I'm sure they would give strong consideration to selling the Vikings without a stadium available -- and that buyer could very well move the team to a city such as Portland, Ore., which is eager to get a NFL franchise and would find some way to build a stadium.

Don't forget that Phil Knight, the billionaire owner of Oregon-based Nike, just helped build the University of Oregon's Matthew Knight Arena, a $227 million basketball arena that opened earlier this year in memory of his late son. Another billionaire with sports connections in the area is Paul Allen, the owner of the NFL's Seahawks and NBA's Trail Blazers.

Also remember, the Wilfs have no local ties, so they wouldn't face repercussions for their other businesses here if they did move the Vikings.

Yes, there's other teams that could move, such as Jacksonville, St. Louis and Buffalo, but that doesn't mean the Vikings won't be in line to relocate.

Meanwhile, there are rumors that while Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and the city council won't offer future Convention Center tax income to a Vikings stadium, they might use some of that income once the Convention Center is paid off to remodel Target Center.

New facilities

Jerry Kill will get some of the features other Big Ten football coaches have soon. A new turf is going to be installed on the practice field at a cost of $1 million. In May, work will begin on a new weight room that should be ready for the fall at a cost of some $500,000.

More improvements are necessary to equal what the Iowa and Wisconsin programs have, but both schools have taken in so much more money than the Gophers in football, so they can afford some luxury items.

Melvin Rice, who played for Kill at Nothern Illinois, is a new member of the Gophers' quality control department.

For the first time in recent memory, there's a chance that brothers will start side-by-side for the Gophers this fall. Ed Olson Jr. started eight games at left tackle as a redshirt freshman last fall, and he's being joined by his brother Tommy this fall. Tommy Olson was rated the top high school prospect in the stat by Rivals.com. Both Olson brothers played at Mahtomedi and are the sons of former Gophers captain Ed Olson. Tommy was encouraged to enter the university early so he could take part in spring practice but decided against it.

Since the students didn't use a good portion of the 10,000 seats made available to them last year, the word is that the number of tickets available to students will be cut by some 2,000. The Gophers are also fortunate to have three opponents -- Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin -- whose fans follow their teams in flocks to help sell out some of the games at TCF Bank Stadium this fall. My prediction is that even though Kill has brought some interest to this team, season-ticket and single-game ticket sales will be down from 2010.

Jottings

• Kyle Rau, the star of Class 2A state champion Eden Prairie, is playing junior hockey with Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League and got two goals and an assist in his first game, a 4-1 victory over Omaha on Wednesday. Two other Gophers recruits, Christian Isackson for Sioux Falls and Ben Marshall for Omaha, also scored goals.

• The University of Minnesota will pick up some of the extra travel expenses the Gophers baseball incurred because the Metrodome wasn't available through the interruptible insurance carried by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. ... The Gophers are 7-7 after being rained out in all three games they were scheduled for last weekend at Santa Clara. They travel back to California this weekend for three games against Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. The Gophers' leading hitter is junior first baseman Nick O'Shea of Centennial High School, with a .405 average. ... Gophers pitcher Tom Windle was named Big Ten co-freshman of the week. In three outings, the former Osseo High School lefthander has a 2.08 ERA.

• Now that the Phillies have released former Gophers infielder Robb Quinlan, it's possible that the Twins might interested in him for Class AAA Rochester.

• Ex-Gophers coach Lou Holtz is one of 13 people who will receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame. Holtz coached the Irish from 1986 to '96, winning a national title in 1988.

• Brandon Kingsley, the three-time state wrestling champion out of Apple Valley, has given a verbal commitment to wrestle for the Gophers after he graduates next year. The junior recently won the 140-pound Class 3A championship after winning at 135 pounds as a sophomore and 125 as a freshman. Intermat ranks him as the 11th-best junior in the country.

• Klay Thompson, the star guard for Washington State and the son of Gophers great Mychal Thompson, had 17 points, including four in overtime, to lead the host Cougars to a 69-66 victory over Northwestern in the NIT quarterfinals on Wednesday night. Former Twins Vice President Eric Curry was one of the three officials in the game, which had two important calls in the final seconds of regulation: a goaltending call on Washington State and a foul with 0.2 seconds left for Northwestern. Both calls appeared to be correct.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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