Lester Bagley, the Vikings executive vice president of public affairs and stadium development, says that the new stadium project is moving along exactly as planned.
“The Vikings ownership delivered what we promised when we advocated for 12 years at the Capitol,” Bagley said. “Jobs, economic development at $1.5 million per day, and major events coming to the stadium.”
Here is where everything stands with regards to stadium construction, according to Bagley:
The construction project is 53 percent complete with $430 million of the work installed. There are some major milestones coming up this summer as well. The final concrete will top out during the middle of this month, and steel work will be completed in September. The clear roof panels will be installed this month.
There are 1,000 workers on the job site, and the team reached its diversity initiatives and even surpassed them with 37 percent of the workers being minority hires and 10 percent being female — they had a goal of 32 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
The stadium has hired 234 Minnesota-based firms, and 80 percent of the money from the $1.07 billion project will stay in Minnesota. On top of that the city of Minneapolis pulled in $2 billion in construction permits in 2014.
And with the stadium not even complete, the Vikings already have delivered the 2018 Super Bowl and the 2019 Final Four to Minnesota, and they have their bid submitted to play host the 2020 college football championship game.
The Vikings made a lot of promises when they sought financial support from the state for their new stadium, and so far they have fulfilled every one.
Ryan on turnaround
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said that while his team’s turnaround has been surprising, coming out of Fort Myers, Fla., this spring, he believed the squad could play competitively.
“We ran into a very good Detroit team to get us to 1-6 [to start], unfortunately,” he said. “We did not play well. I think all of us coming out of spring training felt pretty good about this club. It didn’t work out the first week but some of the leadership and the guidance of the staff, we were bound to turn it around some.
“I’m not going to pretend to tell you that we’d be at this spot in this part of the schedule, but nonetheless we’re a resilient team and it’s showing up. Even when we have a bad outing we bounce back the next day.”
Williams impresses Trestman
The PressBox, a weekly sports publication in Baltimore, recently profiled Ravens second-round draft pick Maxx Williams, saying the timing was right for the team to select the former Gophers tight end, given Dennis Pitta’s injury problems and the importance of tight end to the Baltimore offense. The position has provided the Ravens at least 50 catches and four touchdowns in each of the past seven seasons.
The new Baltimore offensive coordinator is another Minnesotan in Marc Trestman, the former Bears coach who said of Williams: “He has a great skill set. He has great football intelligence. We’re able to move him around and do different things with him inside and outside. He can cut off on the backside, and he can be a front-side blocker as well. This is a young guy. He’s just 21 years old, and he’s still growing. He’s still getting stronger, and yet, he has a skill set that’s ready-made for this league. We’re excited about the things that he can do. … He can get vertical. He can get in the seams. He’s made plays in the red zone. He’ll go to the ground and find the football, and he’ll go up in the air. He has good catch radius for his size.”
In addition, Williams’ position coach is Richard Angulo, who played for the Vikings from 2003 to ’06. “It’s a great get,” Angulo said of Williams, adding, “[Williams is] very athletic. He’s a threat in the receiving game as well.”
Minnesota and the Stanley Cup
There aren’t many local ties in the Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Lightning. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who played prep hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s for Tom Ward, has to be the best NHL player he coached outside of the Peguins’ Sidney Crosby. However, Toews is working toward his third Stanley Cup, while Crosby has only one. Toews entered Saturday with nine goals and nine assists in 18 playoff games.
The only other local connection in the Stanley Cup is Tampa Bay’s J.T. Brown, the son of former Vikings running back Ted Brown, who is now a Ramsey County probation officer. Ted Brown never played hockey, but his son got into it at Rosemount High School before going to Waterloo of the United States Hockey League, then played on an NCAA championship team at Minnesota Duluth. Brown entered Game 2 with one goal in 19 games this postseason and had 13:22 on the ice in Game 1.
• Things are not looking good for former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, now with the Rockies. The Denver Post reported Friday that there is no timetable for the 2014 NL batting champion’s return to the lineup after suffering a concussion on May 13. “It’s difficult for Justin, given his history with concussions,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. “This is a process, and we have to wait it out.” If Morneau can’t return, he might retire due to his history with concussions.
• Pitching is the name of the game, as Tom Kelly always says, and the difference in ERA is why the Twins are 32-23 and in first place through 55 games this year, compared to 26-29 and six games out of first place last season. Their team ERA was 4.43 at this time last year compared to 3.91 this season.
• Joe Mauer has played in 54 games for the Twins and is hitting .273 with 34 RBI, 24 runs and 15 extra-base hits. Last year through 54 games, he was hitting .269 but with only 15 RBI, 31 runs and 11 extra-base hits.
• It’s no surprise that Torii Hunter can still play.
In 49 games he has hit .280 with eight homers, 36 RBI and 29 runs. Those are even better numbers than last year when he played for the first-place Tigers; through 49 games in 2014 he was at .264 with eight homers, 29 RBI and 26 runs.
• Aaron Hicks, who hit only .206 in spring training for the Twins and was sent down to Rochester where he hit .336, is now the starting center fielder for the Twins and hitting .244. He said he was confident he would be recalled. “I think I had a pretty good chance. Right when I was sent down I knew it was all about being able to produce and being able to swing the bat better,” Hicks said. His defense has been excellent, but he has only driven in two runs, coming on a two-run homer off Boston’s Rick Porcello.