Hartman: Vikings, Twins require patience in new stadiums

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2013 - 7:59 AM
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Vikings owners Zygi Wilf, center, and Mark Wilf were prominent Tuesday at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the billion-dollar Vikings stadium. In question is whether their team will be prominent soon in the NFL.

The Vikings broke ground on their new $1 billion stadium on Tuesday, a mere three years after the Twins opened their new $545 million building at Target Field in 2010.

Still, the last time the Vikings reached the Super Bowl was in 1976, losing to the Oakland Raiders, and the last time the Twins reached the World Series was 1991, when they defeated the Atlanta Braves in seven games.

So with the two teams having a number of losing seasons in the recent past, you have to wonder: Which team has the best chance to win a championship in the near future?

The Vikings reached the playoffs last year after going 10-6 but lost 24-10 in the wild-card round to the Packers. This year they are 3-8-1 and are guaranteed a losing season. In 2010 and 2011, the team went a combined 9-23, including 3-13 in 2011, tying a franchise-worst mark.

The Twins haven’t reached the playoffs since their inaugural season at Target Field, when they went 94-68 in 2010 and lost in the first round to the Yankees. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2002 and have gone a combined 195-291 over the past three seasons.

Both teams have a bankable star — the Twins with former MVP Joe Mauer and the Vikings with last year’s NFL MVP Adrian Peterson — and both are still in their prime.

One thing going in the Twins’ favor is that, for the first time in franchise history, they have invested a tremendous amount of money in free-agent pitching with their four-year, $49 million contract for Ricky Nolasco and their three-year, $24 million deal with Phil Hughes.

The Vikings under the Wilf family always have been big free-agent spenders, and that likely will continue with their new stadium deal. They also most likely will get a very good pick in next year’s draft, unless they finish the season on a big winning streak, which isn’t likely.

Both teams have a number of question marks. The Twins have lost standouts Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel in recent years, and it seems as if star prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are at least a year away from being major contributors to the big league club.

The Vikings continue to have questions at quarterback while trying to figure out who will be their long-term starter, and there’s no guarantee that the team won’t completely abandon the current group of quarterbacks and take another passer with a high draft pick after this season.

The Vikings also have a number of free agents who have been major stars or contributors for the team in the past who might not be here next season, including Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Charlie Johnson, Toby Gerhart, Chris Cook and quarterbacks Matt Cassel and the recently acquired Josh Freeman, who had some good seasons with Tampa Bay.

I’m guessing the Twins will have no chance to reach the World Series next season and the same will be true of the Vikings and the Super Bowl.

And while attendance for the Vikings never wavers much, no matter the team’s record, winning might be important for the Twins to keep on drawing fans.

Stopping Flacco key for Vikings

For the Vikings to beat the Ravens on Sunday they will have to be able to put pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was asked what impresses him about the Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

“I think his growth, his maturity, his confidence, too. Here’s a guy that turned down an extension to go play a year, won the Super Bowl and got super paid, good for him,’’ Allen said. “You can tell the way he grows, his presence of leadership obviously. He’s an elite quarterback, he really is. He knows how to extend the play. He reminds me a lot of [Ben] Roethlisberger. He’s not the most mobile guy, but he knows how to work that pocket and angles and find lanes and ways to create plays downfield.”

Kill on redshirts in 2014

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill was asked about the potential of some of the players he redshirted this season to come in and contribute next year, when they will still have four years of eligibility left.

“We have some players out of there,’’ Kill said. ‘‘We were smart. Redshirt-wise we feel like we have lightning in a bottle with [running back] Berkley Edwards. If he didn’t get hurt, he is a guy running the football who can get it over with. He’s a sprinter. That’s something I think we wish we had right now to help us out a bit because he’s a game-breaker.”

Edwards was ranked as the 63rd-best running back in the nation by ESPN before he signed with the Gophers last year. His brother is former Michigan and NFL star receiver Braylon Edwards.

But Kill said the team has more players in the wings, too.

“We have two or three defensive backs that will have an opportunity to step in and do great things. We have a big tight end [Nate Wozniak], 6-9, 6-8, 255, he’s done a heck of a job, proud of him. We have offensive linemen, we redshirted a lot of good kids and our future is bright. It really is. That’s the exciting thing about what’s going on right now.”

Sid's Jottings

• The Packers are the only NFL team that is owned by stockholders, so they are only team whose finances are made public. Well, the Packers earned $54.3 million in 2012 after operations. However the Packers don’t pay any dividends, and they invest the earnings. So they are expanding the capacity of Lambeau Field and remodeling their Hall of fame there.

• Former Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams has played four games with Sacramento after being traded by the Wolves and is averaging 9.5 points per game.

• Former Benilde-St. Margaret’s standout basketball player Sanjay Lumpkin is playing 25 minutes per game for Northwestern as a freshman and is averaging 5.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

• Ronnie and J.D. Spielman, sons of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, are both Eden Prairie defensive backs headed to Ohio State, but they will play lacrosse. Ronnie is a senior and J.D. a sophomore.

• Russ Travis, former Chaska basketball player, is starting for Penn State and averaging 10.6 points and eight rebounds per game.

• Tyler Oakes, son of Gophers pitching coach Todd, was a volunteer pitching coach for the Gophers and is now the new pitching coach for North Dakota State.

• The San Francisco 49ers had to release former Vikings quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to make room on their 53-man roster for receiver Michael Crabtree, but once Bethel-Thompson cleared waivers the team immediately signed him to its practice squad.

• The North Carolina football team, to which the Gophers paid $800,000 to get out of a home-and-home series this year and next, finished the season 6-6 after going on a five-game winning streak before losing 27-25 to Duke last week.
 

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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