I got my tour of U.S. Bank Stadium last week, and everything good that has been said about the new Vikings stadium is true and then some.
The concourses are amazing, the scoreboards will rank with the best in any stadium or arena, the sight lines will be the best. You can go on and on and sing the praises of the Vikings’ future home.
Take your hat off to the Wilf family for already contributing an extra $95 million to the project, and that’s before the escalators and other features will be added. I expect the Wilfs will continue adding additional money to make it a first-class stadium. They recently got some good news when HKS Architects, the firm out of Dallas that designed the stadium, also was hired to design the plaza outside the stadium for $400,000, half the firm’s original $800,000 estimate.
Lester Bagley, Vikings executive vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said that while the team was happy to get a price break, HKS will still benefit from working on such a major project.
“They’re going to generate some significant fees in this project, but they should because this is one of the beautiful designs of stadiums in the league,” Bagley said. “They did work with us on this particular project [the West Plaza design], which was what is it going to look like … on the doorstep of the stadium.
“We’re trying to change the street name to Vikings Way in front of the stadium, along with the city council, and then there are some other properties there that we’re trying to design to make sure it flows well from the stadium as well as from the plaza to the Downtown East commons, which is that new park.
“So HKS decided to step up on that, and they’re doing a great job, so we’re happy that they’re going to help design that plaza. They’re going to do just fine in terms of fees. This project has escalated in cost and there’s a lot of hard work going on and that’s a discussion behind the scenes of how we got there and how we get out of it.
“The Wilf family has put in an additional $95 million since the bill passed the Legislature, because a lot of teams and communities get to this point and they start to cut things [and] we don’t want to cut things. We want to add things and make sure this is the best stadium in the league.”
My opinion is that the stadium is going quite a bit over budget in order to fulfill everything the team wants out of the building.
When it comes to the Wilfs’ financial contribution, Bagley said the team isn’t sure if those additional fees have come to an end or not.
“We’ll see, but it has been a trend, an upward trend since the project started,” Bagley said. “That has been a little frustrating. The project was supposed to be delivered for a guaranteed price, but there has been some escalations. We’re working through that right now, it has been an upward trend.
“The Legislature had us agree to $477 million in team/private dollars and since the bill passed, on top of that $477 million, the Wilfs have agreed to contribute an additional $95 million and counting. We also have the highest rent in the league. We’re paying $10 million annually for the operation of the facility. Any way you slice it, it’s a pretty fair deal, especially a stadium that is going to deliver a great building and great events for everyone in Minnesota and then those great international events that will occur in this new building.”
Area not available?
The word on campus from good sources was that the new Gophers track was going to be located at the site of a grain elevator and silos, east of TCF Bank Stadium in the area of SE 6th Street and 25th Av. SE.
The University of Minnesota was reported to have agreed to buy the elevator for around $1 million and then proposed to have the structures torn down to make way for the track on the nearly 5-acre site. However, according to a story in Wednesday’s Minnesota Daily, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny an application to demolish the 114-year-old elevator and silos, which have been abandoned since 2013.
The Daily reported: “The commission denied the proposal to raze the building after a city report concluded that the property is too historically significant to demolish, adding that the building is one of the few remaining steel elevator complexes in the country.”
Apparently, the university is still hoping the Minneapolis City Council will overrule the commission so it can proceed with its planned expansion.
• The Pohlads, owners of the Twins, have improved Target Field every year since it opened in 2010 and plan to enhance the center field concourse for next season. Populous, the firm that originally designed the stadium, will assist in planning a new multilevel gathering space for fans that will include new amenities, signature concession offerings and enhanced technology. Mortenson has been retained to handle the construction.
• The Sports Business Journal has recognized Twins executive vice president Laura Day as a “Game Changer.” SBJ defines a Game Changer as a successful woman who makes a difference and has an impact within the sports industry. Day, who oversees the Twins’ revenue generation efforts, will receive the honor in New York on Sept. 17.
• The Twins’ preliminary 2016 schedule has the team opening on the road at Baltimore on April 4. The home opener is scheduled for April 11 vs. the White Sox. The 2016 interleague schedule includes Milwaukee, as usual, and newcomers Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia.
• At the same time that the trade deadline was passing for Major League Baseball, the following former Twins were cut from major league rosters: Chris Parmelee (Baltimore), Vance Worley (Pittsburgh), Garrett Jones (New York Yankees), Deolis Guerra (Pittsburgh) and Danny Valencia (Toronto). Valencia was picked up by the Athletics after his release and is now starting at third base. The Yankees also re-signed Jones.
• While the Twins offense has been struggling of late, Reynaldo Rodriguez was named the International League Batter of the Week for the Rochester Red Wings after hitting .385 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, five RBI and six runs scored last week. Rodriguez leads the league with 44 extra-base hits.
• Former Gophers hockey player and Plymouth native Evan Kaufmann has retired following a seven-year professional career in Germany. Kaufmann skated for Germany at the 2012 IIHF World Championships, making him one of a handful of Jewish athletes to represent the country in international competition following the Holocaust.
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. email@example.com