Sid Hartman: Maybe next year for Vikings stadum

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2011 - 12:23 AM

Momentum for a Vikings stadium seems like it could be better in 2012 than in '11, despite the governor's optimism.

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The former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant acreage in Arden Hills

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Saturday, I experienced another reason why the Vikings should receive a new stadium, something I'm afraid they won't get this year.

My friend Mike Hogan, who is involved in selling stocks and bonds, tries to do something every year for his clients as a public relations move.

This year, he chose to arrange a tour of Target Field for some 34 people. And he asked me to join the tour to talk a little Twins baseball to his customers.

While on the tour, I learned that last year the Twins gave some 2,200 tours of the ballpark, including some 40,000 fans at the cost of around $20 per person. On some days, the Twins can't handle the requests for tours.

The Twins had about a dozen tours Saturday. It's just one more reason why the construction of Target Field was such a good decision for everyone, not just the team, but also the county, the state and the general public.

I'm sure that at least some of those people who have gone on Target Field tours were adamantly against the Hennepin County sales tax to help fund the stadium, only to see their attitudes change once it was built.

The No. 1 question I got from most of those on hand for Saturday's tour was not about the Twins but rather a Vikings stadium. By and large, they were people who were anxious about the Vikings' future. If there was this much interest in the Twins stadium, can you imagine how many people would flock to the Vikings stadium?

However, despite the optimism of Gov. Mark Dayton, I question whether it will happen this year.

I can't get the least bit excited about the Arden Hills site, a location on the abandoned Army Ammunition Plant. It's a site that has so many infrastructure and soil problems that the cost will be prohibitive. There is one major benefit for the Vikings with the location in that the team would gain additional revenue from parking around the stadium, much more than it could at either the Metrodome or the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

Even though the Vikings owners won't divulge their favorite site, I am convinced that it still is the Metrodome. No doubt the cost of building on the site of the Dome could be up to $200 million less than the other locations.

However, I am also convinced that if a stadium bill isn't passed this year, the Vikings stadium will become a reality in 2012. My prediction is that the local business community -- led by U.S. Bank President and CEO Richard Davis and others -- will get really involved with Hennepin County, with a big campaign going to get a facility built on the Farmers Market site.

You put a Vikings stadium on the Farmers Market site and a casino at Block E and downtown Minneapolis would thrive like it never has before.

It would help, however, if Mayor R.T. Rybak and his city council members would put up a fight to keep the $9 million spent in their city every time the Vikings play a game.

Tubby won't leave

It's interesting that every time a top college basketball coaching job develops, the name of the Gophers' Tubby Smith is always mentioned.

Now it's Maryland with Gary Williams retiring.

Well, I talk to Smith three or four times a week when he is in town, and it's obvious if somebody calls him, he is going to listen.

He did listen to Missouri during the week of the Final Four, and even though the Tigers made him a great offer, he rejected the position. He could have had the Georgia Tech job if he had shown some interest in it and had his agent make the phone call. But he didn't make a move.

Right now he is all excited about opening a branch of his Tubby Smith Foundation here and about his inaugural golf tournament in September at Edina Country Club, among other things, to raise money for children in need.

I believe it will take a fantastic offer for Smith to leave, but it won't happen.

Furthermore, if he did move, the Gophers wouldn't need a search committee to name a successor, because there is no doubt that former Gophers player Flip Saunders, now the Washington Wizards coach, would be offered the job immediately by Joel Maturi, as Saunders was before Smith became interested in 2007.

And I'm convinced that this time, Saunders would leave the pros to become the Gophers coach. And if he didn't, there is a good chance another ex-Gophers standout, one Kevin McHale, would be standing in line.

ottings

• Joe Mauer was seen at Target Field the past two days as the All-Star catcher continues to get better and prepares to go on a minor league rehabilitation stint. ... The Twins payroll was $113 million when the season started. It goes up a little every time a player goes on the disabled list and a minor leaguer is called up. A player such as outfielder Ben Revere gets paid $60,000 per season when he is playing in the minor leagues and the minimum of $415,000 whenever he puts on a major league uniform. ... Jason Kubel began Saturday hitting .349, second in the American League behind Toronto's Jose Bautista at .357. But the Twins outfielder went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the 4-0 loss at Boston to drop his average to .336. ... Glen Perkins continues to do well in the Twins bullpen. The former Gophers lefthander struck out the only two Red Sox batters he faced Saturday, lowering his ERA to 0.61. ... Righthander Alex Wimmers, the Twins' first-round draft choice out of Ohio State, has been on the disabled list ever since he gave up six consecutive walks and threw three wild pitches April 11 for Class A Fort Myers. He is at extended spring training.

• Former Apple Valley High School standout Mike Lundin has two assists in 11 postseason games for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The second-year defenseman, who has been paired with veteran Eric Brewer, is a plus-3 in the playoffs.

• At the ice hockey world championships in Slovakia, former Gophers standout Blake Wheeler is second on Team USA in scoring with two goals and two assists in five games. Hastings native Derek Stepan is tied for the team lead in scoring with one goal and four assists. Former Cretin-Derham Hall defenseman Ryan McDonagh has one assist, and Rochester's Mark Stuart, the Team USA captain, has one goal. ... Wild winger Martin Havlat has two goals and three assists in four games for the Czech Republic; Brent Burns has two goals and an assist for 5-0 Canada, and Cal Clutterbuck has one assist.

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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