Hartman: Vikings glad to leave Metrodome behind

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 13, 2012 - 9:03 PM

The Dome had its day, but the outdated facility didn't bring in the revenue streams earned by most NFL teams.

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The Metrodome's roof collapsed under heavy snowfall in December of 2010.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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While the Wilf family never threatened to move the Vikings, team owner/president Mark Wilf admitted Sunday that it would have been difficult to compete financially with other NFL teams had the Vikings not been able to get a bill passed for a new stadium and instead continued to play in the Metrodome.

"It's very important that we did stabilize the franchise with this financial deal," he said. "To be competitive in the NFL, you have to spend money on players and you have to be making sure to get the free agents and have the football operations. To [now] know that you're in the same facility and the same place for the long haul certainly will help.

"The Metrodome, I think it was agreed by all parties that while it served its function and was a great investment for the state and the public, it was time to move on. I think our fans were aware of that. Anyone who has been in the Metrodome the last decade or so realized that it outlived its usefulness."

Wilf said the Vikings will be proceeding in the design process with architects, planners and the public to see "what can be done here and try to make this as first-class a facility as we can, given the budgets.

"We're going to have features that people are going to want to come to the game with their families and make it a full-day experience. We'll work very hard at getting that done. Whether it has a retractable [roof] of some kind, that's yet to be determined, but we're going to try if we can."

Wilf talked about Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where Super Bowl XLVI was held Feb. 5, as a model for the new Vikings stadium.

"Certainly in terms of the types of amenities and the way it feels inside," he said. "I think this past Super Bowl got rave reviews in terms of the people that attended from all over the world and all over the country. I think it's the right sensibility."

However, Wilf added: "We want to have something exciting but also is going to fit the Minnesota market and be something that has a Minnesota flavor to it. That's the sensibility that we're going to shoot for, the type of features that Lucas Oil has -- big screens, technology, comfortable seating, club areas, public plazas, the whole nine yards."

Wilf said he and his brother, Vikings owner/chairman Zygi Wilf, have looked at a lot of great halls of fame for teams at NFL stadiums around the country and will try to incorporate the best features of all of them.

"We have a great history, and our No. 1 goal is to [win] a trophy to put in the middle of the hall of fame," Mark Wilf said.

Wilf said projections have the Vikings playing in TCF Bank Stadium for the 2015 season, but how much of the 2014 season that might have to be played there is still not certain. The current plan is for the Vikings to move into their new stadium in 2016.

When the Metrodome roof collapsed and the Vikings had to play a game against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium in December 2010, the Vikings learned the Gophers' home field is not designed for cold weather, so they are going to bring the stadium up to the caliber of other NFL stadiums.

"We are going to pay for installation of heating coils under the field and also some additional seating and some other opportunities to limit the disruption for us when we play there and also be benefits and amenities that the university will be able to have down the road, too," Mark Wilf said.

Butera not surprised

Drew Butera, the Twins catcher who started the season in Class AAA Rochester and caught Scott Diamond and P.J. Walters, expected the two pitchers to do well when they were recently recalled from the minor leagues.

Diamond is 2-0 in two starts with a 0.00 ERA. The lefthander has not allowed a run in 14 innings since joining the Twins.

On Sunday, Diamond threw 101 pitches (63 for strikes) in seven innings while shutting out the strong-hitting Blue Jays. He was 4-14 with a 5.56 ERA at Rochester last year and 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA this season before being called up by the Twins.

Walters pitched six innings in his Twins debut Saturday and gave up two runs, contrary to the ineffective work the Twins have received from most of their other starters. He is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA, having allowed six hits with five strikeouts and no walks.

Butera, who caught Diamond in Sunday's 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays, recalled how well Diamond and Walters pitched in spring training before being sent down to Rochester.

"Diamond is throwing a little harder and he's throwing strike one," Butera said. "He had a lot of life on his ball and he was a lot more aggressive [Sunday]. Just throwing more strikes, throwing more strikes then he did last year."

Butera, who hit .167 in 93 games for the Twins last year, is hitting. 250 in the four games he has caught since being called up and looks a lot better at the plate.

"Well, hopefully it wasn't Rochester for good, that's what my thoughts were," Butera said of when he started the season in Class AAA. "Just go down and work on some things and get back up here. I have a game plan and I'm sticking to it."

Jottings

• The Twins have played only two games to date against teams in their own division, against Kansas City. The Twins have 70 games left against AL Central teams, with division-leading Cleveland coming in for two games Monday and Tuesday and Detroit for two on Wednesday and Thursday.

• Word is that former Gophers defensive lineman Anthony Jacobs, one of five Gophers invited to the Vikings' rookie camp, has signed with the Purple.

• In the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in Sweden and Finland, here are some statistics of some local players through Saturday: Justin Faulk, a St. Paul native who played one year with UMD, is second on Team USA and tied for 10th in tournament scoring with four goals and three assists in six games. ... Also for Team USA through six games, former Gopher Alex Goligoski has four assists, former Gopher Kyle Okposo has two goals and one assist and former UMD standout J.T. Brown, son of former Vikings running back Ted Brown, had one goal and one assist.

Players with local ties who are playing for other countries in the world championships include Wild center Mikko Koivo, who has two goals and four assists in six games for Finland, and Wild prospect Mikael Granlund, who has four assists. ... Playing for Sweden are two Wild prospects, Johan Larsson and Jonas Brodin. Larsson has two assists in five games and Brodin has one goal in five games. ... Former Gopher Matt De- Marchi has two goals in six games for Italy.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM 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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