For $300, cops provide Vikings safe passage to away games

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2013 - 6:27 AM

The caravan service is meant to speed up travel and airport security.

hide

Police escorted the Vikings bus as it headed to the airport for a game in Baltimore.

Photo: Jim Gehrz • jgehrz@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

In what has become part of their travel routine, the Minnesota Vikings left the team’s Eden Prairie practice facility for Sunday’s game in Baltimore under a police escort, with players and equipment already screened so they wouldn’t have to go through normal airport security checkpoints.

Team officials say those procedures — common throughout the National Football League and paid for by the team — are necessary for security reasons.

Many law enforcement leaders and sports officials agree, but some also concede that such special treatment for athletes runs the risk of offending ordinary travelers, as when Delta Air Lines confirmed it had canceled a Thanksgiving weekend commercial flight and rescheduled passengers so that the University of Florida men’s basketball team could use the plane and make it to a game.

More than most sports teams in ­Minnesota, the Vikings have long sought police escorts, generally paying around $300 for the service. From 2009 through August of this year, according to state records, the Vikings received State Patrol escorts 38 times and the city of Edina has recently taken over the job.

Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said the police escorts are necessary because, once the team goes through TSA-regulated security at its Eden Prairie facility, “we are considered a ‘sterile package’ [and] we have a police escort to maintain that sterility.” A State Patrol escort before the team’s playoff game at Green Bay last January cost the Vikings $317.12, according to state records.

Before agreeing to provide escorts for the Vikings this summer, Edina Police Chief Jeff Long said he researched the issue to make sure the city was “not going to get accused” of providing “special treatments because they’re athletes.” Long said city police cars were not “escorting them at 90 miles an hour”, and in some instances the escort did not move as fast as other traffic. He said only in some cases did the squad cars use their flashing lights.

“Personally, I’m not a huge Vikings fan,” the police chief said. “I’m not awe-struck by any of these people.”

A spokesman for Eden Prairie, where the Vikings’ ­Winter Park facility is located, said the city turned down a Vikings request to provide police escorts because “we didn’t want to set a precedent for supplying employment of that nature.”

Twins and Wolves

Mike Herman, the Minnesota Twins’ traveling secretary, said he sympathized with those who had concerns. “I understand if people would be upset about it,” said Herman, who said the Twins typically go through security at a ­special airport location and then go directly onto the tarmac. “[But] teams that have major, major superstar athletes, having them go through the airport might be an issue.”

The Timberwolves and visiting NBA teams also often have airport screening done at Target Center. And at the University of Minnesota, the Gophers’ football team goes through a security screening at the school before leaving for the airport and gets an escort by university police to the airport for away games. A spokesman said the football squad, because it has so many members, is the only team at the school with such an arrangement.

A State Patrol spokesman said the practice of giving sports team private escorts was justified, and fit within state guidelines. While state policies give discretion on who can get a private escort — roughly 800 a year are approved — many are for such everyday needs as guiding trucks hauling oversized loads that include everything from heavy machinery to large boats.

The State Patrol does not, in general, escort private vehicles rushing an injured or sick person to a hospital, unless “as a last resort” in an “extreme emergency.”

“We have 50 some-odd, very high profile people traveling in a group,” State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said of the Vikings’ police escorts. “There’s a concern that, without any security measures, that they’d be ­vulnerable.”

Deputy Chief Mike Everson of the Metropolitan Airport Police said that, in general, only sports teams are regularly escorted on the airport tarmac.

“I can’t think of anybody” else in the private sector, he said. “We’re [involved] to provide the safety and security to make sure that everything goes smoothly.”

Tone Coughlin, the race director for the NorthShore Inline Marathon, hires state troopers for traffic control for his annual race near Minnesota’s North Shore.

  • related content

  • Ravens orchestrate zany rally past Vikings in icy Baltimore

    Monday December 9, 2013

    The teams combined for five touchdowns in the final 125 seconds - an NFL-record burst of lead changes.

  • The Vikings routinely pay for police to escort the team bus to the airport, such as on Saturday when the team headed to the airport for a flight to Baltimore for a game Sunday against the Ravens.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati 0 Top 2nd Inning
Chicago Cubs 0
St. Louis - M. Wacha 6:05 PM
Washington - G. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - C. Morton
Toronto - D. Hutchison 6:05 PM
Cleveland - J. Masterson
LA Angels - J. Weaver 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Smyly
Atlanta - A. Harang 6:10 PM
NY Mets - J. Niese
Baltimore - C. Tillman 6:10 PM
Boston - J. Lackey
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - E. Bedard
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
Chicago WSox - F. Paulino 7:05 PM
Texas - M. Perez
Minnesota - R. Nolasco 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Philadelphia - J. Pettibone 7:40 PM
Colorado - T. Chatwood
Houston - J. Cosart 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Cain 9:10 PM
San Diego - T. Ross
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Montreal 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Detroit 6:30 PM
Boston
Dallas 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will you boo Jared Allen when he returns with the Bears?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close