Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said the new stadium budget will be set soon.
“We’re working hard because we can’t get to a guaranteed maximum price with Mortenson [Construction] until we’re in agreement on the budget,” he said. “And we can’t do our financing until we get a guaranteed maximum price. These are dominoes that have to fall, and the first thing we have to do is get the project [on] budget and we’re not there yet.”
Bagley added that the team is getting closer to a deal.
“We’re in shouting distance but it’s tough,” he said. “We want to have a first-class NFL facility. We want to have the best stadium in the league, and we want to make sure that all of the amenities for our fans get included in this building. That’s what the battle is here. We can’t cut basic amenities out, we have to find a way to get all the things that benefit our fans into the stadium.”
How long does Bagley think it will take until the budget is resolved?
“Within the next week, we have to have this guaranteed maximum price for Mortenson so we can close on our financing and then the state can issue their bonds for their side of the price,” he said.
Bagley also mentioned there’s a possibility the Vikings could play in London again in 2015, because of the great success the team had there this year, rather than playing all eight home games at TCF Bank Stadium.
Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson recently spoke about coach Jerry Kill’s continued presence around the football team, after he took a leave of absence to concentrate on treatments for his epilepsy.
Nelson said Kill helped the team to victories over Northwestern and Nebraska.
“It’s crazy how inspirational he is for this whole team,” Nelson said. “Even when he’s not there out on the field with us, we all know that he’s there and we’re playing for him.
“After the game, he tells us all the time how resilient we really are. We’re a resilient bunch of people, that’s what he always tell us. … You always listen to what Coach says and all, but I think that’s something that is exactly right: Everything this team has gone through and we’ve been able to keep on the course, even without Coach. That shows how resilient this team really is.”
Nelson was asked what the Gophers (6-2) are expecting when they play Saturday at Indiana, where they are 9½-point underdogs.
“We haven’t played Indiana in a while [since 2008] and I think we’re excited for the opportunity,” Nelson said. “We can’t be satisfied with where we’re at right now. Our goal wasn’t to win six games this year. I think this is just another great opportunity for us to keep proving to ourselves and to go on the road and get a good Big Ten victory.”
• One positive thing about the 44-31 loss to the Packers was the great job Cordarrelle Patterson did returning kickoffs, including his 109-yard touchdown return to start the game. “He’s done a terrific job all season long on kickoff returns,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “I think he was the special teams player of the month for the first month of the season, so he’s continued that. He’s been terrific and kudos to the guys that are blocking for him, but he’s a major threat on kickoff returns without a question.”
• Indications are that Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones, now ranked as the fifth-best high school player in the country in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com and fourth by ESPN.com, will soon announce he will attend either Kansas or Duke. I am sure it will be Duke.
• With the signing of guards Nate Mason and Carlos “Squirrel” Morris this week, Richard Pitino now has three commitments for the Gophers in the Class of 2014. Mason is a 5-11 guard from Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md., who had offers from several other schools, including Clemson, Harvard, Kansas State and Memphis. Morris is a 6-4 guard from Chipola Junior College in Jacksonville, Fla., who also had offers from Arkansas, Seton Hall and West Virginia, among other schools.