Apparently the Wilf family is willing to spend as much money as necessary to make their football stadium the best in the NFL.
It was reported Feb. 16 in this column that the Wilfs, after having contributed an additional $2.4 million to the new Vikings stadium for material costs, would have to add $22 million more in the near future, because of rising construction prices.
Well, after some negotiations by Mortenson Construction, the Wilfs wrote a check of $19.5 million so that their new stadium will be able to include all the features they want it to have. According to the team, these features include plaza enhancements, food service equipment, seat upgrades and a deck facing downtown Minneapolis.
And it might not be the last check the Vikings owners have to write, as the stadium is only about 50 percent complete, and Zygi Wilf and his family plan to keep with their original plans.
They now have put up $74 million extra, making their contribution $551 million of the total stadium cost of $1.061 billion by the time the Vikings open play there in the 2016 season.
Look for the roof to be on the stadium by the end of November and for the glass on the north side of the stadium to be worked on in the near future.
Nobody has the background and knowledge to do a better job analyzing college football than Gerry DiNardo, who was the coach at Vanderbilt, Louisiana State and Indiana before going into television, first for ESPN and since 2007 for the Big Ten Network.
Watching the Gophers in spring practice this past week, DiNardo said the program has never been in better hands.
“The first thing that jumps out at you when you come to Minnesota’s practices is how efficient the practice is,” DiNardo said. “It’s as efficient as any team that you’re going to see practice. I think part of that is that Jerry Kill’s staff has been with him so long so everyone knows what’s expected of the staff and the players.
“The second thing that jumped out is it appears to be the most talented [Gophers] team I’ve seen in eight years. There’s some issues. They’ll have to throw the ball better, they have to replace David Cobb. So I’m not saying they’re a finished product, and there are some areas where they have to continue to improve. But from [players] 1-105 or 1-85, they’re the most talented team I’ve seen.”
DiNardo said that while Kill has drastically improved the culture with the Gophers, there is still one big issue that will make the team even better and secure Kill’s ability to improve the program.
“I think the facility that is on the drawing board is very important to them,” he said. “I think that’s a big part of letting Jerry continue to build this program.”
The Gophers’ 5-3 Big Ten record in 2014 was their best in 11 years, and DiNardo believes that the makeup of the Big Ten’s two divisions will leave the Gophers with a chance to really compete for a conference title moving forward. But he added: “I go back to facilities. As they build the facility it should continue to put Minnesota into position where they can compete to win the West every year under Jerry Kill, like they did last year.”
Jeff Jones, the four-star running back from Minneapolis Washburn, sat out last season with the Gophers while he worked on some academic problems. But he is eligible now.
“I don’t think it’s easy to come into a program and sit out a whole year and not get to practice or do anything and then you’re thrown right in there,” Kill said. “He’s a very smart young man, very smart, but he’s come in and due to Berkley Edwards’ injury he’s had to jump in there and get reps immediately. He had some nice runs in the scrimmage and he’s a smart guy. I’ve been impressed the way he has picked things up. I don’t know if we’ve had anybody picks things up as quick as he has as a young freshman.
“I’m really kind of surprised at the progress he’s made. He still has a long ways to go because he hasn’t been in it a year, but he’s a good athlete.”
You have to give Bill McGuire credit for the strong group he put together to bring Major League Soccer here.
I don’t believe any other sports franchise has three billionaire owners as McGuire has in Glen Taylor, Wendy Carlson Nelson and Jim and Bob Pohlad.
As far as financing the soccer stadium goes, I would assume they will be able to make a reasonable cash advance and get a mortgage and pay it off out of profits. Bob Pohlad, a person I have the utmost respect for, made it very clear that the stadium will be a reality.
“We didn’t come this far not to see it through,” Pohlad said at the news conference announcing the new MLS squad. “Bill’s done a great job and we’ve got a great location we think we can make work.”
• There is no doubt that several of the Vikings players are in contact with Adrian Peterson, trying to convince him the best decision he can make is to come back and play. Everybody in the locker room wants Peterson back, and the fans will forgive his transgressions in a hurry.
• There is no question in my mind that Kevin Garnett will play one more season with the Timberwolves and following next season he will become a part-owner and an executive with the organization. Close friends tell me he will live in the Twin Cities area during the season and make this his No. 1 home.
• Chad Greenway truly is a class act, and one that showed how much he wanted to stay with the Vikings by agreeing to a substantial pay cut Saturday, the second year in a row the linebacker has taken a pay cut.
• There is concern on the University of Minnesota campus about how men’s basketball season ticket sales will go next year. Not only will it be necessary to get a stronger nonconference schedule, but with a significant rise in seat licensing prices, I’ve already heard from five people who say they will not renew.
• Rashad Vaughn, the former Cooper standout, denied a report that he will enter the NBA draft after one season at UNLV, saying Friday night on Twitter he hadn’t decided yet. NBADraft.net has the 6-6 Vaughn, who averaged 17.8 points and 4.8 rebounds before suffering a season-ending left knee injury last month, projected as a second-round pick.
• J.P. Macura, the former Lakeville North star, played important minutes for Xavier in the NCAA tournament. The Musketeers’ run ended with a 68-60 loss to Arizona on Thursday. Macura scored eight points over three games and added two assists. Certainly the freshman will get more playing time next season.