Hartman: Vikings will yet get their turn

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 17, 2011 - 9:59 AM

The funds weren't there for a stadium, but look for a special session this fall.

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A view of a proposed Minnesota Vikings stadium built at the Arden Hills site.

The imbecilic Legislature and stubborn Gov. Mark Dayton made many people suffer during the state's two-week government shutdown and took the easy way out when they finally did face their problems. So Vikings owner Zygi Wilf probably should have realized that he would not see a stadium bill passed when a special session is held to address the budget crisis.

Yes, politicians showed a lot of courage to get the job done with that proposed deal to deprive schools of $700 million and then borrow money on the tobacco fund.

Once a special session is called to end the shutdown and address the budget crisis, a Vikings stadium bill is not likely to be on the docket. Stadium backers say it's possible that Dayton will call a second session later this year to address the stadium issue.

Unfortunately, the Vikings never have worked harder or spent more money lobbying to get a stadium on their favored Arden Hills site, but the lobby for Indian tribes and their very profitable slot machines and other gambling devices continues to outspend everybody else.

It is amazing that even though the public is almost 100 percent in favor of some type of gambling bill that would earn millions of dollars to solve a lot of the problems facing the state, the geniuses over in St. Paul favored the Native American big lobby.

However, I believe the Vikings will get a stadium if a special session is called this fall, when the football season is on and the great force of Vikings fans, faced with the real possibility of losing the team, will have a different attitude about the need for a stadium.

The next big election comes in 2012. There's is a much better chance of getting a stadium bill passed with the current group in St. Paul than with a new group that would have to be lobbied all over again.

Fight for farmers market

However, before any special session focused on a stadium is held, don't be surprised if there is a big drive by downtown executives for a stadium in the Minneapolis farmers market area rather than Arden Hills. There will be a lot of money spent to get that done.

A number of the big wheels of downtown companies believe that prosperity in the loop would reach new heights with Target Field, Target Center and a new Vikings stadium all in the same area.

One of the factors that has impressed the Vikings about the Arden Hills site is the space it offers to park 21,000 cars. But the farmers market site's parking problems could be solved pretty easily. If you take a drive off Glenwood Avenue from the farmers market all the way to Penn Avenue N., you will find that you could develop thousands of parking spots on the empty lots and buildings that could be torn down.

However, the Vikings' owners would have to buy those properties if they were to profit like they would at Arden Hills.

The Vikings are presently profitable only because of the some $25 million they get each year in revenue sharing. They get that from the big moneymaking NFL teams such as Dallas, New England, the two New York squads, and Washington.

Then there's the problem that owners of some of those teams contributing the money for revenue sharing are fighting hard to eliminate it. And the word is that while the NFL might not eliminate profit sharing altogether, it will succeed in the near future in cutting down the amount of money that is distributed between the teams.

In a recent issue of Forbes magazine there was a list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world, and while the Vikings made the list at No. 41, they were 30th out of all the NFL teams and dead last in the NFC North. A big reason for that is their lack of a new stadium.

The Wilf family is not going to keep the Vikings if it is a losing venture. Look for them to sell the team if a stadium is not built in the next three years. And then the new owner could move the team.

Help may not come

If the Twins are expecting better run production from Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau after the All-Star break than they produced in the first half, they shouldn't, based on previous years.

In his nine previous years, Morneau has hit .298 before the All-Star break and .260 post-break. The first baseman has driven in 420 runs before the break and only 280 post, although injuries have played a big part in the second half numbers falling off, with him playing 585 games before the break and just 418 after.

Mauer, amazingly, has hit .324 both pre- and post-break during his seven previous years with the team. He has driven in 265 runs before and 218 post.

Cuddyer has hit .268 pre-All-Star break in his 11-year career and .276 post while driving in 320 runs before and only 233 after.

The reason to bring this up is that the big problem this team has had this year is scoring runs.

An example was Friday's 2-1 loss, when they got great starting pitching from Nick Blackburn, who felt he had much better stuff than the righthander has had in several previous starts, but the team scored only one run.

So if the Twins are expected to repeat as division questions, the big three will have to get and/or stay healthy and produce more in the second half than they have in previous seasons.

Jottings

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi has canceled plans to stage an outdoor college hockey game next year at TCF Bank Stadium because it would cost $350,000 to install the ice and because of other expenses, and an ill-timed snowstorm would result in the loss of a lot of money. "We don’t have the stadium seating capacity of Wisconsin [80,321] and Michigan State [75,005], who have staged games and have the capacity to make it work financially. I would have been satisfied to break even, but with only 50,000 seats, we can’t come out financially," Maturi said.The fact that the Gophers are recruiting four players from Miami Central High School brought a false Internet rumor that Central was going to play either Eden Prairie or Cretin-Derham Hall at TCF Bank Stadium. Maturi said he would welcome one or two big high school games at the Gophers stadium, but schools would have to pay the rights fees everyone pays, according to school rules.Even though Timberwolves President David Kahn has received permission from Portland to talk to Trail Blazers assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff about replacing Kurt Rambis, no contact has been made. J.B. Bickerstaff, son of Bernie and a Wolves assistant for four years, has signed on for two years as an assistant with Houston. Naturally, J.B. said he would prefer to work for his dad if Bernie got the Wolves job, but he doesn’t know if the Rockets would release him. Jordan Jess, a lefthander from Ripon, Wis., who has signed with the Gophers, was named Wisconsin high school baseball player of the year after going 10-0 with a 0.92 ERA as a senior. … The fundraising for a new U baseball stadium is stuck at $5.5 million, with $2 million more needed to start building.
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