Hartman: Vikings set sights on stadium site

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 20, 2011 - 10:28 PM
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Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf during training camp in Mankato

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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The smiling face of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf adorns the cover of the August issue of Twin Cities Business with the headline "Game Face: Zygi Wilf Is In The Red Zone. Will He Score A New Vikings Stadium?

As usual, he is a little higher on this Vikings team than other football analysts, but in a well-written story by Brian Lambert, Wilf admits there are no easy solutions whether you are building a shopping center (he is a real estate developer) or a stadium.

In my conversation with him this past week, he talked about how important a stadium is so the Vikings can have the revenue to compete with other teams to sign their own players and free agents.

"Absolutely it does help us compete," Wilf said. "Basically there's not a single team right now that is operating without an NFL lease, which we will have next year.

"I mean, when we try to attract players to come to our team as free agents, it's very, very important that we have a facility which they know will be taken care of, from the standpoint of the facility and the national publicity that it brings to the team and the community.

"I think building a new stadium will go a long way to ensuring the next generations both a home for the Vikings and a venue [fans] can enjoy. And for all the other events that it will bring to the metro region and an exciting boost for the economy at a time when we need to be able to build up jobs."

Wilf is sold on the Arden Hills site, while there are still some politicians and some in the business community pushing for a downtown Minneapolis site.

"In our opinion we believe that the Arden Hills site is the perfect location for not only a football stadium but for the great tailgating experiences, and for other venues that will attract people there as a entertainment hub for the people of Minnesota," he said. "We're very excited about that and really, we have most of the details worked out. We're very excited for what it will bring to our fans."

However, Wilf pointed out that despite the fact the Vikings are around 30th in the NFL in revenue, he and his partners have spent money to get the right players.

High on Frazier

On another subject, Wilf is convinced he has hired the right coach in Leslie Frazier, one who will eventually take the team to the Super Bowl.

"I give him a lot of credit," Wilf said. "We went through a tumultuous last six, eight weeks [last season] with everything that happened to us. Yet we were able to step up and play the best that we could under the circumstances and the team came together at a time when many teams would just fall apart. I give the coach and the coaching staff a lot of credit for keeping everybody together."

Wilf said the ownership was sold on Frazier long before they named him coach.

"We felt that we were very fortunate to have him as our defensive coordinator, and the ability to have a smooth transition to him was something that we didn't question from the moment we made the decision," he said.

As usual, he is optimistic about the team's chances to win the division.

But in reality the Vikings will have a hard time beating out the Packers and Lions, who have better personnel.

Gophers picked last

Sports Illustrated is out with its college football preview issue, and in the Big Ten it predicts the Gophers will go 0-8 and 3-9 overall.

And then in a segment titled Players to Watch, the only Gopher mentioned is Troy Stoudermire, who needs 190 yards to break the NCAA career kick return yardage record. He will be a starting cornerback after six starts last year.

Well, the Gophers read these predictions, and what it does is make them even more determined to do better.

Right now this team's strengths are the offensive line, where there is some depth, and at running back, where freshman David Cobb from Killeen, Texas, and more than one first-year offensive lineman have indicated they have good futures.

After all, they beat two good teams -- Illinois and Iowa -- at the end of last season, and a good number of those players are back.

If coaching can do it, this team could be a surprise.

Jerry Kill and his staff do as good a job as any coaching staff I have seen over the years at Minnesota.

One thing I know for sure: Give them time and they will win.

Familiar new teammate

Ben Leber, the former Vikings linebacker who signed recently with the Rams, will join a former Vikings teammate in offensive lineman Adam Goldberg.

Gophers football news

Quentin Gardener, the Texas wide receiver who signed with the Gophers and didn't qualify academically, is going to attend Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, become eligible and then enroll at Minnesota.

Two in-state quarterbacks who have committed to the Gophers -- Phil Nelson of Mankato West and Mitch Leidner of Lakeville South -- will enroll at Minnesota in January in time to take part in spring practice.

Jottings

• The contract for Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb calls for $5.1 million, plus a $2.5 million bonus if the team advances to the NFC Championship Game.

• The word from Miami is that tackle Bryant McKinnie, released by the Vikings because he was overweight, is working hard to get in shape and once he does, the Dolphins have interest in him.

• The headline on the Denver Post website read: “Broncos QB Adam Weber lost in the Orton-Tebow-Quinn Shuffle.” The former Gopher is the fourth quarterback, and it doesn’t appear that things will change.

• Look for Twins outfielder Denard Span to not play the rest of the season because of his ongoing concussion problems.

• Twins President Dave St. Peter said the Twins will close 2012 spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., and will not play any exhibition games elsewhere as they did this past season in Atlanta.

• Yahoo!Sports, in its preseason ranking of Big Ten basketball players, rates the Gophers’ Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams as two of the top 10 players in the conference.

• The Gophers basketball coaching staff got good reports on the performance of 6-11 Elliott Eliason, who was a member of the East Coast All Stars who finished third in the Four Nations Cup in Tallinn, Estonia. Eliason, who was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska, was redshirted last year and has four years of college competition remaining.

• Miami (Ohio), the Gophers’ football opponent on Sept. 17 after they open the season at Southern California and then play New Mexico State at home, is heavily favored to win the MAC title.

• One reason outstanding Osseo tight end Will Johnson might wind up at Mississippi is that he knows former Hamline defensive tackle Mike Markuson, who is a Rebels assistant coach.

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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  • Sid's jottings

    Sunday August 21, 2011

    • The contract for Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb calls for $5.1 million, plus a $2.5 million bonus if the team advances to the NFC Championship Game.

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