U.S. Bank signed a contract with the Vikings for the naming rights to their new stadium at what is reported to be around $200 million for 20 years.

In fact, the actual U.S. Bank sign on the east side of the stadium is going up in about three weeks.

Richard K. Davis, the CEO of U.S. Bancorp, gave a couple reasons for his firm getting involved in the naming rights.

“One reason is, companies are more global these days and they move around a lot,” Davis said. “Even the 17 Fortune 500 companies we have in this city here, a lot of their business is not in the city anymore, it’s all over the world. There are more cities than I can tell you that have tried to entice me as the CEO, to move our headquarters to another city. I’m loyal to the Twin Cities. This is where we started. This is where I want to make people see that we’re going to stay.

“One of the best ways to get the critics to wonder if you’re really going to stay is to put your name on something for 20 years. If they really wonder if we think we’re committed, and we’ve been partners for a generation, this is another way to do it. To me it was symbolic of the fact that we’re a Minneapolis-St. Paul- headquartered company, the old First [National] Bank, and we want to put our name on something that we think has as much of a future as we do, which is at least 20 years into the future, as part of a franchise in the great NFL.”

Davis said this was not just a case of a great relationship with the Wilf family, owners of the Vikings.

“It’s really not a relationship between the Wilfs and the bank that’s going to be any different — we already have that relationship,” Davis said. “This is about creating a place in the community where people will go and our name will be identified with something positive.”

He added that the football stadium is a positive environment and the franchise is critical to the state. He said that the Vikings had every reason to move, and if they had, the state would have awakened some morning and become a B-Class city, like when the North Stars NHL team left.

“I agree with you that stadiums matter and teams matter,” Davis said. “Every Sunday for 16 weeks, and days leading up to it and afterward, Minnesota is in the papers around the world. You would not get that if you didn’t have an NFL franchise. So the answer to your question goes back to my belief that this city deserves to be an A-Class city — and having an NFL franchise is part of that.

“A new stadium was critical as we all know to keeping that partnership here. We’ve already leveraged the stadium to bring in new great ideas like the Final Four and the Super Bowl and we have been partners with this family longer than football was around. We are headquartered in the state where the Minnesota Vikings started, and all of that made sense for us to put our name on it.”

Finally, Davis talked about how additional money will be used to implement a charity scholarship program called “Places to Play” between the Vikings and the bank.

“That’s a $1 million program with the Vikings where 25 communities for the next four years each can apply for a grant for $10,000 to improve their local playgrounds, their local parks, their programs for coaching, wellness, children’s safety, whatever they want to be,” Davis said. “We’ll make those endowments and allow that money to be part of a bigger program than just naming rights.”

Gophers track site

The word at the Bierman Building on the University of Minnesota campus is that the location of the new track for men and women is down to two options.

One is part of the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, where the students and others who use the course don’t want to see any of the 18 holes eliminated.

Second is the area where there are several grain elevators that face TCF Bank Stadium, and apparently there is plenty of land there to build a first-class track.

The big thing the women want to happen is that there be equal practice time for the women’s and men’s teams.

Sanford’s influence

Rest assured that one reason the Gophers men's basketball team will play Oklahoma State at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls on Dec.12 is to please T. Denny Sanford, who has been a big contributor to the Gophers athletic department.

Oklahoma State certainly would be a better attraction than some of the nonconference opponents who will appear on the Gophers schedule at Williams Arena this upcoming season.

One wonders if the Gophers are playing the game in Sioux Falls to appease the man the arena is named after, because the University of Minnesota has been working on a way to secure a major contribution from Sanford to help with the building of their new athletic facilities.

However, Iowa State is going to face Colorado at the Sanford Pentagon on Nov. 19 and several other major teams have played there, including Wisconsin against St. John’s, and UNLV playing South Dakota in 2013. In 2014, Wichita State faced Memphis, South Dakota State faced Florida Gulf Coast and UNLV played South Dakota.

Jottings

• Don’t look for any serious remodeling of Target Center until next summer, even though $130 million is available for the project.

Dick Moseley, 81 years old, who was on the Gophers football coaching staff from 1972-1978, still is coaching Green Bay Southwest and will attend the Gophers opener with TCU on Sept. 3. Moseley, who has been in football coaching since 1955 and has coached at 20 different locales, should get some attention at the Maroon and Gold opener. … The only member of the Gophers football squad, including the freshmen, not in school right now is Jonathan Femi-Cole, a running back from Ontario who will definitely be here when the team opens fall practice.

• Former Gopher Mo Walker has signed a contract with the Orlando Magic to participate in their summer league. … Another ex-Gopher, Austin Hollins, will play this summer for his father, Lionel Hollins, with the Brooklyn Nets. … Ex-Gopher Trevor Mbakwe, who recently won a German League title with Brose Baskets, has signed on to play next year with Maccabi Electra in Tel Aviv and Andre Hollins has signed with the Leuven Bears in Belgium.

• Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd talked about their first-round draft pick, former Robbinsdale Cooper standout Rashad Vaughn: “You talk about a competitor,” Kidd said. “You look at the boxes, he fits our age group. He’s young. There’s no pressure on him coming into this situation, for him to learn the game at the highest level.”

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com