Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley was one of five representatives in the room when the team and the city of Minneapolis made their successful Super Bowl bid. He spoke with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand about the process and other subjects this week. Here are excerpts from that conversation:
Q Did you realistically think the Vikings and Minneapolis would get the Super Bowl on your first try?
A We knew we had a strong bid, and we knew we had a strong story to tell. And I think we told it very effectively. … We worked the votes hard, and on game day we nailed it. But still, we were holding our breath. It was stunning when the commissioner said the word “Minnesota.” It was exhilarating and stunning at the same time.
Q Did you get a sense for just how close the vote was?
A I don’t know that we’ll ever know. … We felt like we had 18 votes pretty solidly going in. And you need 17. In the 48 hours leading up, we thought a couple more slid in our direction. We felt like if the votes held, we were OK. But this is different than the legislative process. … It’s a secret ballot. There’s been a track record. Arthur Blank, the owner of the Falcons, told Zygi [Wilf] that he thought he was going to win strongly [in a previous year] from the feedback he got from owners. But when it came to the vote, he was knocked out in the first round. We were wary of that, and we didn’t take anything for granted. … My guess is we got just over the 17 needed based on how competitive everyone is saying it was.
Q The vote was Tuesday, but the game is almost four years from now. How daunting is the task ahead?
A My guy Brett Daniels, who kind of has my role for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, we’ve been good friends for 10 years. After the vote, he congratulated me, but he also told me, “Be careful what you wish for.” It’s extremely challenging to put together. We’re going in with eyes wide open.
Q Major League Soccer: We’ve heard the Vikings and a group led by Minnesota United are both making cases for an expansion team. Where are efforts on that, and does the Super Bowl take resources away from it at all?
A No, I think the Super Bowl proves we can get stuff done. One of the things we intend to get done is secure an MLS franchise. We’ve gone to [Seattle] and met with their ownership and front office. Same thing with Sporting KC, we’re going there next week. We’re continuing our discussions with franchises as well as Commissioner [Don] Garber.
Q We’re about 2½ months away from the first preseason game at TCF Bank Stadium. Everything OK on that front?
A Capital improvements are underway, upgrading the facility to make it more of an NFL stadium. Our ticket members have responded. Ticket sales for the upcoming season are strong, but there are seats available. … Coach [Mike] Zimmer is excited about playing there. We’re going to have a practice there sometime in June to get our fans to check it out and see their seats.