The very positive reaction to Target Field by fans who have been there has been even beyond what many expected.

For that reason and a number of others, the chances to get a Vikings stadium built are certainly a lot better than they were before Target Field opened.

And let us face the facts. Sure, the cost of a covered football stadium on the site of the Metrodome will be about $250 million more than what it cost to build Target Field. But the problem of actually getting a stadium deal done will be much easier for a new Vikings building than for Target Field, for a number of reasons.

First of all, there won't be the fight over the cost of the land, because the land is owned by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. There won't be any legal battles on the price of the land like the Twins had to endure.

The Vikings won't have the infrastructure cost of some $90 million that was spent for Target Field since everything is already in place. A lot of money was spent moving the railroad tracks around adjacent to the new Twins ballpark. This is another expense that won't be necessary with the new football stadium because Metro Transit is already there.

Furthermore, architects who have worked on plans for a new Vikings stadium have ways to maintain some portion of the current Metrodome.

The time needed for the Vikings to play in the Gophers' new TCF Bank Stadium might be limited, because some of the construction on a new stadium could take place in the vast parking lot next to the Dome. A lot of the newer baseball stadiums -- for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets, for example -- have been built in parking lots adjacent to their old stadiums.

Also, the Vikings architect might benefit from the delay in construction like the Twins did, being able to learn from the other stadiums built in recent years, both avoiding their mistakes and building off their positive aspects. They can take away a lot from a place like the new Cowboys Stadium, although that one cost a lot more money -- $1.3 billion -- than the some $800 million the Vikings can likely build a stadium for.

Less than a year old, Cowboys Stadium already has played host to an NBA All-Star Game that attracted more than 75,000 fans and a Manny Pacquiao fight that drew some 50,000. Next January, it will hold the Super Bowl, with a Final Four coming in 2014.

All those events would be available to a new Vikings stadium, provided it had a roof.

The NCAA has promised a Final Four and a regular schedule of NCAA tournament earlier-round games if a new covered stadium was built here.

And maybe one of the biggest reasons to build it now is to find work for the 7,500 workers who built Target Field who are now unemployed. Most of the 6,000-plus who built TCF Bank Stadium are looking for work, too.

U academics rates high

The University of Minnesota had 63 winter athletes earn Academic All-Big Ten honors as named by the conference office, the school announced this week. The Gophers' total out of 539 athletes overall is second in the conference behind Ohio State's 65, and it is a five-athlete improvement over last year's winter total of 58.

To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten honors, athletes must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year and carry a career grade-point average of 3.0 or better.

The most athletically decorated Gophers athlete to receive the honor was senior Jayson Ness, the undefeated NCAA champion at 133 pounds and one of six wrestlers named to the team. In addition, nine of the 14 players on the Gophers women's basketball roster received academic all-conference honors, as did 11 of the 19 Gophers men's gymnasts.

The Gophers' two swimming and diving teams led the way in honorees, with 17 men and 14 women making academic all-conference.


Gophers men's basketball player Blake Hoffarber also was named Academic All-Big Ten. He led the conference in three-point field percentage (.467), making 85 of 182 attempts. He would have ranked third nationally, but he didn't average enough made threes to qualify. You have to average 2.5 threes made per game, meaning he needed three more made shots because the Gophers played 35 games.

The Gophers baseball team, which includes only two seniors, will play Michigan State in a three-game series this weekend at the Metrodome, with Seth Rosin, who has a 2-2 record and a 3.61 ERA, pitching the opening game Friday. Michigan State is led by infielder Jeff Holm, a .418 hitter whose father, John Holm, lettered for the Gophers from 1972 to '73. ... Michael Kvasnicka, the Gophers catcher/outfielder who was named Big Ten player of the week, is the son of Jay Kvasnicka, a Gophers player from the 1980s who went on to play for the Twins farm system. The younger Kvasnicka batted .583 with three runs, two doubles, a home run and seven RBI as the Gophers won two of three from Purdue.

The Gophers remained in seventh in the latest Division I Directors Cup standings with 574.25 points in all men's and women's sports. Points are earned based on performances in NCAA tournament competition. Stanford leads, with only two other Big Ten schools -- Ohio State in second and Penn State in fourth -- ahead of the Gophers.

Farmington High School product Trey Davis started six games playing offensive line for the Gophers football team last season, but he gave up a full football scholarship for minimum track and field aid so he can concentrate on throwing the shot put for the university. "It was a difficult decision, but I just felt like it was time to move on a little bit and focus on track," said Davis, who finished fourth in the shot put in the Big Ten indoor meet. "I enjoyed my time with football and I'm excited about my future with track. My parents support me and they're behind me."

Former major league catcher Jim Pagliaroni died Sunday at age 72. He was behind the plate when the late Jim (Catfish) Hunter threw a perfect game for Oakland against the Twins on May 8, 1968. It was getaway day in Oakland, and the Twins had a hard time picking up the ball as it moved from bright sunlight to deep shade. Pinch hitter Rich Reese struck out for the final out, and Hunter, while holding the Twins hitless, went 3-for-4 as a batter. Pagliaroni was in the 10th of 11 big-league seasons, and he played only 66 games that season for the Athletics.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. •