Sid Hartman: Covered stadium is the right way to go

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 28, 2011 - 12:24 AM

As the Cowboys have shown, a lot of events besides football games can be held in a covered-roof facility.

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Not only have the fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area shown up at Cowboys Stadium for NFL games since the retractable-roof building opened in 2009, but they have filled the place for concerts, basketball games, soccer games and boxing matches, too.

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With Dallas in town to face the Vikings on Saturday night, it's too bad that Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys and a great salesman, couldn't address Gov. Mark Dayton and members of the Legislature to convey to them what his beautiful new stadium has done financially for the city of Arlington and all of north Texas.

Jones told me that if he had the chance to talk to the politicians, he would have offered this message: "Our goal with Cowboys Stadium was to create an economic engine to benefit all of north Texas.

"Our new stadium has allowed us to put the region on the global map by hosting some of the most visible sporting events on the calendar. Not only are we home to NFL football on a regular basis, but also the site of Super Bowl XLV, the NBA All-Star Game, championship boxing, top college football and basketball games, concerts and more.

"These events bring people, dollars and media to north Texas on a regular basis."

In addition to Cowboys games, here are some of the events that have been held in the new Cowboys Stadium since the retractable-roof building opened in June 2009: concerts by the Jonas Brothers, U2, Paul McCartney, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and others; soccer matches, including the CONCACAF Gold Cup and an exhibition between England's Chelsea and Mexico's Club America; college football games, including a number of regular-season matchups as well as the Big 12 championship game and the Cotton Bowl; a Professional Bull Riders event; a welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito; a Texas-North Carolina men's basketball game; this year's NBA All-Star Game; and, most notably, this year's Super Bowl. The 2014 Final Four is also scheduled to be held at the stadium.

What Jones has shown, and what I have tried to convince the great political geniuses in this state, is that a new Vikings roof-covered stadium might be scheduled to hold only 10 Vikings games a year, but having that stadium available for other events sure would benefit both the Vikings and the community. If, according to reliable figures, a Vikings game brings in $9 million in spending to this area, how much more revenue would be generated by a new facility?

True, this area wouldn't attract all of the college football games that Cowboys Stadium attracts. But most of the events that play in the Dallas-Fort Worth area would sure make a stop here.

"I know the Wilfs are committed owners to Minnesota, and they have pledged a significant investment toward a new stadium while working to create the same public-private ownership we have in Arlington," Jones said.

"I believe the leaders and citizens in our hometown would say nothing but positive things about the results our partnership has yielded with Cowboys Stadium."

Yes, regardless where a covered stadium is built in the Twin Cities, you can imagine the many events we would be able to attract here. I know for sure we could get a Super Bowl and a Final Four if the new Vikings stadium was a covered one.

New situation for Gray

When Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray lines up against the Southern California defense Saturday, it will be the first time he has started under center since his senior year in high school, in the fall of 2007 in Indianapolis.

What a tough position for Gray to be in. But I'll tell you that with his great ability to scramble, he will play a part in some upset victories this year. As a high school senior, he was rated the third-best dual-threat quarterback in the country by Rivals.com and the seventh-best QB overall.

The big question is how much the lack of experience as a college quarterback will hinder him. But visiting with him, you see he has all kinds of confidence, and he has had a good fall practice.

"It's only pressure if I allow it to be pressure," said Gray, a receiver last year. "You just go out there and have fun, that's all a team can do, and if they do that, then great things can happen.

"One thing I have to do as a quarterback is take it one day at a time and don't worry about the little things, just have fun with it. The coaches will see what's wrong with me and we'll correct it. Other than that? Just have fun."

Gray likes what he sees in coach Jerry Kill's offense. "It's a lot more spread, zone-read type offense," he said. "The quarterback is running a lot, so we have to be in great condition to do so. I see myself running the ball a lot, but if the time comes I'd like to stay in the pocket and stick to throwing. But if I have to run, then I'm going to run."

Gray caught 42 passes for 587 yards and five touchdowns last year and he said he enjoyed being a receiver. But he added: "I'm back to the position that I love and been playing all my life, so I'm just happy playing quarterback."

Kill and his staff knew all about Gray when they were at Northern Illinois. "Coach told me about it when he first got here, they wanted to offer me [a scholarship], but I had so many big schools that they backed off," Gray said. "But I'll tell you what, if I hadn't liked any of those schools, I would have loved to play for Coach Kill back then."

Jottings

• Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were not in attendance for Saturday night’s exhibition game against the Cowboys, only the second time Zygi Wilf had missed a home game since purchasing the team in 2005. The brothers were stuck in New Jersey because of Hurricane Irene.

• The recent history of the professional franchises here has been for our teams to let their stars depart, such as Kevin Garnett of the Timberwolves, Marian Gaborik of the Wild and Sidney Rice of the Vikings. Now we wonder if the Twins are going to follow the others by letting Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel depart as free agents.

• I assume the officials at MnDOT look at the fall schedules of the Gophers, Vikings and Twins and proceed to make sure they are fixing roads around the homes of those sport teams right when they are playing. It would make more sense to do this in May, June and July, but it doesn’t happen.

• ­Bloomington Jefferson product Steve Edlefsen made his MLB debut last Sunday for San Francisco, pitching 11/3  innings of perfect relief with two strikeouts. The 26-year-old righthander was an infielder at Nebraska before the Giants drafted him in the 16th round in 2007. He was called up when All-Star closer Brian Wilson was placed on the disabled list.

• There was some talk of the Twins reacquiring Jon Rauch from Toronto last month. But in six innings in August, the righthanded reliever gave up 10 hits, including two home runs, and five earned runs for a 7.50 ERA this month. The Blue Jays put him on the disabled list Aug. 16 after he had his appendix removed. … Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks recently dropped Kevin Mulvey from their 40-man roster, but he remains with Arizona’s Class AAA Reno affiliate. The Twins traded Mulvey for Rauch in August 2009.

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