Vikings owner Zygi Wilf met with reporters Tuesday afternoon during the team's afternoon practice at Minnesota State University. Below is a partial transcript of Wilf's exchange with the media.
What are your impressions of the team?
Wilf: They are looking energized, young. We have a lot of veterans who are teaching the young guys. We are looking forward to a great season ahead.
Tell us where you are at with the stadium?
Wilf: Certainly it was a great relief after working very hard for the last seven years. I’d like to thank the Governor and all of the legislative leaders for making this possible. All fans and most of the people in Minnesota want it to happen. Looking back after the last several months, it was a greater burden than I thought because I feel very much relieved that our fans here in Minnesota will have Vikings football here.
Where are you at with the retractable roof?
Wilf: Right now, as you know, we are just formulating [a plan], hiring our consultants, working with the [Stadium] Authority to work on the design. So we are in the early stages. We are going to try our best, as I stated before, to get the retractable roof. But we are going to certainly have retractable elements. It’s going to be a [state]-of-the-art stadium. It’s going to be something everyone in Minnesota can be proud of.
When will we see final plans?
Wilf: The plans will evolve over the next year. We are shooting for having the season opening in the new stadium in 2016. Certainly over the next year, as we design and work with the Authority and getting everyone on board, there is going to be a lot of hard work ...We have a time schedule, a time chart, but I cannot remember all of the dates. But believe me, there are thousands of things to do before we break ground.
What is a reasonable expectation for this team?
Wilf: I expect to be division champs. I want to be able to fight for the division as we always do every year, and get better for years to come. That’s always been our goal. That’s been the goal since the first day I came here.
What do you think of the perception this team is building right now?
Wilf: We have a lot of veterans on board that are going to have to teach the younger guys on the team. I don’t know if you want to call it rebuilding or whatever, but we are certainly going to be improving. The young guys are going to get into the system and with Coach Frazier’s leadership and Rick Spielman’s direction we are going to be competitive and we are going to fight for the division.
Do you feel like you have to take a mentality of being a little more patient given the youth on the team?
Wilf: Absolutely. I mean, things don’t happen overnight. There will be the ups and downs. And we certainly have had them in the last seven years of ownership, but you have to be patient. As we were patient with the stadium, we are going to be patient and we are going to work hard to get a championship ball club.
What makes you believe you will take a step forward this year?
Wilf: Well for the first time in years we’ve had a full draft class. And between this year and last year we’ve got a lot of great rookies coming on board. I think the youth will really help us together with the veterans -- the star veterans that we have. That will make us a much better team.
What will you measure Leslie [Frazier] on as you monitor his progress as a head coach?
Wilf: Leslie has been working very hard together with [General Manager] Rick [Spielman]. The first time in a long time I’ve seen a coordination between both our personnel director -- general manager as we’ve named him -- and Leslie. I think that working together gets us the best chance of putting the right guys on the field and being competitive. But I have great high hopes for both of them.
What would you like to see out of Coach Frazier this year?
Wilf: Continued determination to stay competitive. Know that our players have to buy into what he’s teaching and the system. And I think after the young guys learn from the veterans and learn from the coaches I think that we’re going to get to where we want to go.
Is there a win total he Leslie needs to reach to keep his job?
Wilf: No, no, I’m not making any benchmarks. I’m expecting a winning season. Like I said I’m expecting to challenge for the division. Everyone starts out zero-and-zero, even score. So I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.
You were 3-13 last year, how tough was that in retrospect for you guys to go through a season like that?
Wilf: It’s never easy to go through losses; it’s never easy to go through a season like that. Like I said, since we became ownership, we’ve had the ups and downs. As somebody asked before, we had to be patient. It's necessary because it’s a tough league, tough competition and our time will come as it did in the past and we’re going to keep on fighting for that championship.
What are your future plans for Winter Park? And what are some of the priorities there that you'd like to see upgraded?
Wilf: We’re working on improving the facility as we did in the past. We’re looking at options of what we can do on site to improve the facility. But it’s going to be a goal, together with the stadium to get the improvements ... It’s an older facility. We made a lot of improvements in the first few years after we came to ownership to improve the players’ facilities, the locker rooms and the offices. We’re right now looking into what we can do to expand with the property that we have. As the owners have discussed today -- we had meetings today -- it’s going to be something that we’re going to re-look into. But right now we really have to focus on getting the stadium moving forward and picking the experts and professionals necessary to bring this on time and on price.