Contrary to some speculation, Gov. Mark Dayton says the Vikings stadium funding voted on by the Legislature — which gave the Vikings $348 million of the $498 million public contribution toward the facility (the City of Minneapolis contributed the other $150 million) — is in good financial shape.
“They closed some of the corporate tax loopholes and the money is coming in,” Dayton said. “The stadium is fully funded, on schedule, on budget. It is going to be phenomenal. I’m sure excited about that. We have the  Super Bowl, we have the  Final Four, they’ve applied for the  college football national championship game, and you look at all the economic development going on all around that stadium, over $1 billion of private development, which never happened when it was the Metrodome. People are going to see that it’s going to have a great big payoff for Minneapolis and for the state.”
The Vikings’ original stadium contribution was $477 million. Since the legislation passed, the team has added $89 million in improvements to bring their total contribution to $566 million.
On another topic, Dayton was asked if there was any chance for public funding of a new MLS stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
“Anything is possible, but the Legislature voted overwhelming for no subsidy,” he said. “I’m glad that the owners want to bring Major League Soccer to Minnesota, but they’ve been told for months now they’re going to have to go without public subsidy.”
Does Dayton think the college football championship game will come here?
“I think [organizers of the College Football Playoff] have been very impressed by [successful bids on] the Super Bowl and the Final Four. [There] was stiff competition,” he said. “That stadium is such a fabulous new addition to the state of Minnesota, but nationally it’s going to be the start-of-the-art stadium. I’m very hopeful we’ll get the game, if not in 2020, then soon thereafter.”
Poor beat the rich
The Twins swept the Red Sox this week for the first time in nine years. Yes, the four-year doormat of the American League Central — a Twins team with a $108.9 million payroll (ranked 18th in Major League Baseball) — dominated Boston, with a payroll of $187.4 million, which ranks third in MLB and second in the AL.
The Red Sox finished last in the AL East in 2014 and set about to correct that by spending an obscene amount of money this offseason to become contenders again. They gave Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez a combined $183 million in contracts — five years, $95 million for Sandoval and four years, $88 million for Ramirez.
The Twins, on the other hand, made the richest free-agent signing in franchise history when they inked pitcher Ervin Santana to a four-year, $54 million deal, and he hasn’t thrown a single inning for the Twins while he sits out an 80-game MLB suspension for a positive performance-enhancing drugs test.
Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello, two of the three Red Sox starters the Twins defeated in the sweep, are both making over $12 million this season, but they are only the sixth- and seventh-highest-paid players on Boston’s roster. They would be the third- and fourth-highest-paid players on the Twins roster, trailing only Joe Mauer and Santana.
The Twins have a four-game series at Boston starting Monday. If the Twins can win one of those games, they will win the season series with the Red Sox for the first time since 2006.
Starters turn corner
In comparing stats from last season to this season, a number of Twins starters have shown improvement.
Kyle Gibson went 13-12 last season with a 4.47 ERA and .258 batting average against. So far this year, he is 4-3 with a 2.72 ERA and .242 BAA. Ricky Nolasco has five victories in six starts already this year, after having only six in 27 starts last season. And while his 5.12 ERA isn’t the greatest, since returning from the disabled list in early May he is 5-0 with a 3.77 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 28⅔ innings.
Mike Pelfrey was a disaster in 2014, going 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA in only five starts before missing the rest of the season, but this year he has turned it around as he predicted he would. He is now 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA in nine starts and he has given up only 49 hits in 52 innings.
Staff ace Phil Hughes has had the slowest start to the season. He has a 4.59 ERA, but has pitched a team-high 64⅔ innings. His numbers have a good chance to come down, though, if he can keep the ball in the park. Last year he gave up only 16 home runs in 209⅔ innings; so far this year, he has given up 12 home runs in those 64⅔ innings.
So if Hughes can turn it around a little bit and the rest of the staff continues to improve, the Twins’ starting pitching actually has room to get better over the rest of the season, especially when Santana returns to the mix.
• Former Lakeville North and Gophers catcher Mike Kvasnicka, who was a first-round draft pick by Houston in 2010, spent three years in the Astros system and then was signed and released by the Twins, is now playing right field for the St. Paul Saints. “I thought I had a pretty good last year [Kvasnicka hit .257 in 112 games at Class AA New Britain],” he said. “My ambition now is to work myself up back to the big leagues.” … Former Gophers and major league pitcher Kerry Ligtenberg is in his fourth year as the Saints pitching coach.
• Great news for the Gophers baseball team: Eddie Estrada, who will enroll in September and be on the squad next year, was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Minnesota this week. Estrada, a senior shortstop for Litchfield, hit .565 with seven home runs and 36 RBI this season.
• There are a couple Minnesota hockey players on the South Carolina Stingrays, who advanced to the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals after defeating the Toledo Walleye 1-0 in triple overtime on Wednesday. Their goalie is Jeff Jackitis of Rochester, who was 2015 league MVP. Former Bloomington Jefferson and UMD Bulldog Caleb Herbert notched an assist on the game-winning goal.
• A quick update on some former Gophers basketball players in Europe: Trevor Mbakwe is averaging 10.4 points and 7.2 rebounds for Brose Baskets in Germany; Devoe Joseph is averaging 9.3 points and 2.9 assists for Cholet in France; Colton Iverson is averaging 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds for Laboral in Spain; and Justin Cobbs is averaging 14.4 points and 4.4 assists for Fraport Skyliners in Germany. In Latin and South America, Vincent Grier is averaging 17.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assist for Lobos UAD Mazatlan in Mexico and Maurice Hargrow is averaging 12.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists for Marinos de Bolivar in Colombia.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org