Special session looks like Vikings' best bet

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2011 - 11:06 PM

With our elected officials focused on the budget, September appears to be a better time for a stadium bill.

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The proposed Vikings stadium site in Arden Hills.

Photo: file, Minnesota Vikings

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If nothing happens on a Vikings stadium vote once the state budget problem is solved, the hot rumor around the Capitol is to look for a special session of the Legislature to be called by Gov. Mark Dayton in September to vote on the Arden Hills stadium bill.

The pressure for solving the $5 billion budget deficit will be over and probably forgotten by then.

The September date also might be a better time to pass a bill if the Vikings are playing football by then and have won a couple of games. That also would mean that Vikings fans would be excited about football, with the team's games consistently drawing the best ratings of any television show in the Upper Midwest and with every home game at the Metrodome sold out for the past 13 seasons.

Before Dayton calls the special session, he would want to be sure that the bill will pass.

With everything shut down these days, the mood might not be right for a vote on the stadium bill this month. And by September, the road problems around the former ammunition plant site, as well as other variables that haven't been settled yet, could be worked out.

Big homestand

Following the All-Star break, the Twins will play 18 of 28 games at home. They come out after the break with 12 consecutive home games, all against AL Central teams: four-game series with Kansas City, Cleveland and Detroit. Surely, if the Twins are to make a move in the division, they will have to play well over this stretch to move closer to the top.

Single-game tickets remain available for all home games, including those against the Red Sox and Yankees in August.

While no official announcement has been made, Twins President Dave St. Peter said the team remains confident in its ability to win the bidding process to bring the 2014 All-Star Game to Target Field.

High on Kaler

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi was asked for his early impression of Eric Kaler, who took over as university president this month.

"I've had the opportunity to meet with him three times and he's been very energetic, enthusiastic, passionate about certainly the University of Minnesota, and I think he understands the role of athletics," Maturi said. "I do know that when I spoke to the athletic director at Stony Brook when President Kaler had been named the president of the University of Minnesota [last fall], he spoke extremely highly of President Kaler and said he was very, very supportive and really wanted to be involved. We're glad that he's here."

Meanwhile, outgoing president Robert Bruininks won't be attending any college events for a while, after falling and breaking his leg.

Jottings

• The Gophers football team picked up two outstanding commitments this week in Dominic Twitty, a 6-3, 265-pound defensive end from Mount Holly, N.J., whom the Gophers coaching staff apparently had some connection with, and Isaac Hayes, a 6-3, 270-pound lineman from St. Thomas Academy. Hayes' older brother, Anthony Hayes, will be a freshman defensive tackle at Stanford this fall.

• The Gophers' Eric Lair and Da'Jon McKnight were placed on watch lists for national awards at their respective positions on Wednesday. Lair, who had 39 catches for 526 yards and two touchdowns last season, is one of 32 players on the watch list for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end. (John Mackey, the Hall of Fame tight end for whom the award is named for, died Thursday at age 69.) Meanwhile, McKnight, who led the Gophers with 48 catches, 750 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions in 2010, is on the watch list for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top wide receiver. The list for that award also includes Duron Carter and Michael Floyd. Carter, the son of former Vikings great Cris Carter, has yet to even practice for his new school, Alabama, after transferring from Ohio State to junior college last year because of academic problems. And Floyd, the former Cretin-Derham Hall standout, remains suspended from Notre Dame after recently pleading guilty to a drunken driving arrest. Floyd is also on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's top player.

• Students and officials from Purdue gathered at a campus church Wednesday night to remember Sean Matti, the Boilermakers running back from Roseville High School who accidentally drowned over the weekend at age 22. "Sean Matti was a coach's dream," Boilermakers coach Danny Hope said at a memorial service. "He was a very special teammate and I really believe he represented what we're all about." An All-State pick in 2007, he walked on at Purdue, and he was serving as a senior leader during workouts. "As a team we lost a good friend, a great teammate, and most importantly, we lost a brother," senior linebacker Joe Holland said.

• The Twins continue to have a big television audience, ranking sixth in the major leagues with a 6.6 average cable rating. Only the Cardinals (9.1), Phillies (8.6), Red Sox (7.7), Reds (7.7) and Brewers (6.9) ranked ahead of them. The Twins ranked second to the Cardinals last season. ... Despite his long absence from the lineup, Joe Mauer continues to have the top selling jersey at Target Field. In order, the other top sellers are Jim Thome, Justin Morneau, Danny Valencia and Michael Cuddyer. ... Twins trainer Rick McWane will work with the American League medical staff at the All-Star Game next week in Phoenix.

• Class AAA Rochester had quite a feat happen Wednesday night, when four pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter in the Twins farm team's 7-0 victory over Lehigh Valley. Jeff Manship, Jake Stevens, Kyle Waldrop and Jim Hoey all contributed, and it was the first time in Rochester's 123-year history as a baseball franchise that the team threw a combined no-hitter. Shortstop Toby Gardenhire, the son of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, made one of the biggest plays of the game when he made a diving stop and throw for the second out in the ninth. "The biggest play was Toby saving us," Manship told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Manship and Hoey have pitched for the Twins this season.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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