The more stadium plans that R.T. Rybak develops, the more upset the Minneapolis mayor will make Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.

For a long time, Wilf had asked Rybak to come up with a realistic Vikings stadium plan in Minneapolis before the Arden Hills site was developed.

Rybak showed little interest in finding a solution to the stadium problem then.

Rybak did have a chance to satisfy Wilf by making available some of the hospitality tax money that is paying for the Minneapolis Convention Center, applying that money to a stadium bill once the Convention Center is paid for, but the mayor wouldn't budge.

Had Rybak done that, it's possible that Mike Opat, the Hennepin County commissioner who had a lot to do with the building of Target Field, might have gotten the county involved with a small increase to the .0015 percent baseball stadium sales tax had the Vikings stadium been built on the Farmers Market site.

Maybe Rybak shouldn't give up, but he has a lot to overcome in his stadium relations with Wilf, who is determined to see the Arden Hills site to the end. The Vikings owner is still unhappy with Rybak for proposing a alternative plan at the same time that the Ramsey County site was originally announced.

Yes, Rybak and everybody else in Hennepin County could be wasting their time coming up with other sites unless something kills the Arden Hills site.

However, as long as Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers continue to be oppose to a stadium bill without a referendum, you can plan on kissing the Vikings franchise goodbye.

Los Angeles is waiting with open arms for two NFL franchises, and there's a good chance the revenue sharing that currently keeps the Vikings profitable will be eliminated or cut down in the near the future, meaning the Vikings won't be able to compete in this market while playing in the Metrodome.

Believe me Sen. Koch and Rep. Zellers, you and some of your fellow legislators are going to be largely responsible for this area losing the Vikings and the weekly $6 to $9 million spent here when the Vikings play a home game, not to mention the many jobs associated with the franchise.

Record TV audience

Last week a record 71 percent of television sets in the seven-county area and upper-Midwest area were turned to the Vikings-Packers game.

Yes Sen. Koch and Rep. Zellers, you and your partners are going to deprive those inhabitants of the many nursing homes, and those shut-ins who always look forward to the Sunday telecast of the Vikings.

The strange thing is that I have heard from several environmentalists who are all in favor of the Arden Hills site because they say the area is a real dump and has to be cleaned up for ecological reasons. It is the state's largest Superfund site, polluted areas in need of a long-term cleanup plan. Some people think the soil problem at Arden Hills will prove too much to overcome, which the Vikings dispute.

Last weekend was a good example of what the Vikings and even the Gophers football team bring to the local economy.

Saturday, Nebraska played its first game in Minneapolis since 1989, and Sunday the Vikings and Packers played one of the biggest rivalry games in the NFL. Hotels and restaurants in the area did business through the roof.

I have to take my hat off to Gov. Mark Dayton, who appears to be trying his best to keep the Vikings here once their lease runs out after this season.

Vikings officials are working with the governor, but as long as the Republican majority in the Legislature won't help solve the problem, neither Rybak's stadium plan nor the Arden Hills site will keep NFL football here.

Bad start for Ferentz

For those who question Gophers coach Jerry Kill when he says it is going to take time to rebuild the football program, they might note that Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, considered one of the most successful coaches in the country, was 1-10 in 1999, his first year with the Hawkeyes and 0-8 in the conference. That was followed by 3-9 (3-5 Big Ten) in his second year and 7-5 (4-4) in his third. But in his fourth season, Ferentz was 11-2 and 8-0 in the conference. And there were fans pushing for Ferentz to be fired after his second year.

Incidentally, the Gophers have been looking at that big Floyd of Rosedale Trophy all week in their meeting room, hoping to keep it for two years in a row for the first time since 1999-2000.

Last year's Gophers, under interim coach Jeff Horton, beat an Iowa team that, according to the Gazette of Cedar Rapids, had eventual NFL draft picks starting at quarterback, guard, safety and three spots on the defensive line. The Gophers had no NFL draft picks.

Christian Ballard, now a Vikings rookie defensive lineman but a year ago a member of the Iowa team that the Gophers upset, said the Hawkeyes might have gone into that game a little overconfident.

"We had a couple tough losses," Ballard said. "You know, we thought we were supposed to do better than we did. I guess a lot of people just weren't ready to play."

Asked if Iowa took the Gophers lightly, Cretin-Derham Hall product Broderick Binns, now a Hawkeyes senior defensive end, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen: "Maybe that would be it, too. We came out and I guess we felt entitled a little bit. But I guess we learned from our mistakes, and we can't do that ever again."


• Because he is more than a four-year veteran, Bernard Berrian not only can keep his Vikings salary but he also will earn whatever his new club pays him if he signs as a free agent. Berrian was released because he refused to cooperate with the Vikings coaching staff.

• There will be a family reunion Saturday with Iowa sophomore linebacker Christian Kirksey being the uncle of senior Gophers nose guard Brandon Kirksey, even though Brandon is three years older. Brandon, who was singled out for a good performance vs. Nebraska, has started the Gophers' past 18 games and 40 overall.

• Wayzata's Mario Lucia, the Wild draft pick and son of Gophers coach Don Lucia, was tied for second in scoring in the British Columbia Hockey League with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 13 games for the Penticton Vees. Gophers recruit Mike Reilly of Holy Angels, also playing for Penticton, was first among defensemen in scoring with 18 points (nine goals, nine assists).

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. •