Hartman: Expect U.S. Bank to get stadium naming rights

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 8, 2014 - 8:40 AM
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The new Vikings stadium, which is set to open in 2016 where the Metrodome once stood, will hold the Super Bowl in 2018 — a Super Bowl that U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis played a major role in landing.

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Look for an announcement in the near future that the naming rights for the new Vikings stadium will go to U.S. Bank.

The word from two sources is that work on a contract for a long-term agreement between the Wilf family and U.S. Bancorp is happening, and unless someone emerges with a much better bid, or the recently announced cost-cutting at U.S. Bank creates a problem, the deal will be an agreement much like the one the Twins made with Target for a 25-year contract, with its worth believed to be between $7million and $10 million per year.

Wells Fargo was thought to be a candidate, but company CEO John Stumpf recently said his bank doesn’t have any interest in the naming rights for the Vikings stadium.

Zygi Wilf and his family are very friendly with Richard Davis, the CEO of U.S. Bank, and the relationship got even better recently when Davis played a big part in helping the Vikings obtain the 2018 Super Bowl at the new stadium.

Interest in MLS

Meanwhile, the Wilfs are working hard to get a Major League Soccer franchise for the new stadium, and they are likely the only suitor willing to pay the $80 million cost for an expansion franchise, or to pay the market rate for a new stadium and the rights to move a club from its current home.

And while the Wilfs have been meeting with league officials, Jim Pohlad, CEO of the Twins, also has some interest in landing an MLS team, but that would have no connection with the Twins.

Bill McGuire, owner of the Minnesota United FC in the North American Soccer League, also is interested in an MLS franchise, but it is doubtful he would pay the $80 million price tag to get one.

No coaching contract

Flip Saunders got a raise when he added coaching to his job title along with being Timberwolves president of basketball operations. However, Saunders doesn’t have an additional contract to coach.

“All we have concerning Flip coaching is a handshake,” Wolves owner Glen Taylor said.

Taylor was asked Friday when the decision was made for Saunders to become the coach.

“I think that both of us had been thinking about it, and going towards this direction, so earlier this week we set up a meeting and Flip came down to Mankato,” Taylor said. “I just asked him right out, ‘After looking at all these [candidates], you’re probably the best person for this job. Are you ready to take it?’ And he said that he would be glad to do it, and we just moved forward from that. I think that was Tuesday morning.

“I’m not sure that I did it because of a PR thing. I think I did it because I think it’s best for the team. I know that there are a number of things about Flip — other than being a really good coach, that he’s well-known in the community, I know I trust him greatly and I think our fans trust him greatly. I think that’s helpful when he goes out and shares information about the team, that people are confident he’ll deliver.”

Asked if it was a mistake to fire Saunders as coach in 2005, Taylor replied: “That was a mistake. But that wasn’t my first mistake and it won’t be my last.”

Taylor also said he believes Saunders can work well with this group of players.

“He will. I just think Flip started here as a coach, he went to two other places and was a coach, he worked in the media for a year, and I just think all along he has gotten better and better and better,” Taylor said. “I think he has just expanded his knowledge. I think he will be a better coach and utilize his assistants and other people better and we’ll get better results.”

Do you think he is as good as an administrator as he is as a coach?

“I think that Flip always had that,” Taylor said. “When I first met Flip, when he came and interviewed because he had worked in those developmental leagues and worked as kind of the president and sold the tickets and everything, I think he had that skill when he came here and has only gotten better at it.”

No word on Love

Taylor said he wants Kevin Love to remain with the Wolves, and he has hope he will. “Sure I have hope for Love. Kevin Love has never said to me that he’s leaving and he hasn’t ever said anything bad, so my hope is that Kevin will stay,” Taylor said. “I would hope he would stay because he believes we have a good team and I would hope he believes that Flip will be a person that can be successful. Because of that I hope he stays.”

Taylor also said neither Love nor his agent has contacted him with any news about a possible departure.

Taylor also noted that the team can’t make any contract decisions on Love.

“Not right now, but later on we could extend it,” Taylor said. “I think if I was his agent I wouldn’t want like a two-year extension. I would wait until I can get a longer extension, and that time will come up this next year.”

Sid's Jottings

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked for an appraisal on rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, even though Zimmer hasn’t seen the first-round pick work too much yet. “Bridgewater is doing well,” Zimmer said. “He threw a great route [Wednesday] in a Bang-8, in the blitz period. He came back. He missed a couple days last week, but he’s studying and was throwing the ball really well today. He has a long ways to go, but we’re still very, very happy we got him. At some point, at some time, he’s going to end up getting a chance to play. I don’t know if it’s this year or next year or when, but as long as he keeps improving every day, we’re happy.” Would Zimmer pick him again if he had the chance? “Yes sir, I would, in a minute, maybe higher,” he said.

• Talk about dedication to the Gophers — football coach Jerry Kill reported 30 members of the team didn’t go home when the spring semester ended and instead took what is called a May Class, stuck around and worked out on their own. As reported here last week, the remainder of the squad will enroll in summer school on June 14 and will start classes on June 16 and work out on their own each day. … Jeff Jones, the outstanding Minneapolis Washburn High School running back who has signed with the Gophers, will take his final ACT exam Saturday, and he will have to improve on previous scores to be academically eligible to play as a freshman.

All 40,000-plus tickets for the Paul McCartney concert slated for Aug. 2 at Target Field are sold, with the tickets priced from $39 to $250

After shutting out Houston over seven innings Saturday, Twins righthander Kyle Gibson is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA over six starts at Target Field this season, having given up seven earned runs in 41 innings. He is 1-4 with a 7.39 ERA away from home.

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