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Wilf encouraged by latest stadium talks


This news story was published on January 5, 2012.
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Sid Hartman, Star Tribune, Minneapolis –

During most of Zygi Wilf’s long effort to get a new football stadium for the Vikings, the team owner stood pretty firm on Arden Hills as a proposed stadium site and with Ramsey County as a financing partner.

However, during a visit with Wilf one-on-one Tuesday, he made it clear that while he still prefers the Arden Hills site and considers it the best option, right now he just wants a stadium bill passed, whether the stadium is located in Arden Hills or one of a few Minneapolis sites.

But where are the Minneapolis financial partners going to come from? That’s an issue.

While here Monday and Tuesday, Wilf met with many leaders in the Legislature. He has had several meetings with Gov. Mark Dayton.

“I can’t say specifically from 1/8the Legislature’s3/8 standpoint what 1/8location3/8 will work for the state,” Wilf said. “We’re working on analyzing what will come forward from those other possibilities. We will evaluate it as time goes on, but right now we are closer than ever on making a deal happen and we’re working very hard to making sure that we get this done.

“Our main goal is making sure that the site is in Minnesota and the Twin Cities area. Right now we are evaluating all of the potential possibilities but, like I said, we are very close to getting something done. I’m sure details will unfold over the next several weeks and months.”

Wilf said he believes the stadium issue is a priority of many key members of the Legislature.

“We’re closer than ever on making it happen,” Wilf said. “I’m very encouraged to see the enthusiasm on the part of the governor and on the part of our state leaders in understanding that having a Vikings home for all the events is an important quality of life issue.

“It will create jobs that the community needs. And most importantly, it will establish a home not only for the Vikings but a symbol for everyone in the country to see that Minnesota takes their sports seriously and understands how important it is to the community that the franchise be viable and something that we all can be proud of.”

Yes, and I will add that while the Vikings would use this stadium for only 10 games a year plus potential playoff games, it could be the home for several local events. The Metrodome has been used for 300-plus days a year while the Vikings have played there, something the new stadium could do as well. A new stadium also would attract many national events to the state and generate millions of dollars of new business for the Twin Cities area.

Morneau status

In a recent interview with Kevin Millar on MLB Network, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said he still has concussion-related problems after working out hard. The condition caused him to miss 93 games last season.

“Most days I wake up and I feel pretty good,” Morneau said in the interview. “It’s just usually either after I get done where I really exert myself, really working out hard and a long day and everything, then your brain gets tired and everything gets so worn down because it’s not functioning the way it’s supposed to be. You kind of get done with the day and you go, ‘Something’s not right.’ I end up going home and taking a nap for two hours or whatever it is and then wake up, and the headache is usually still there. You’re kind of grinding through it, but that’s been a lot better lately.”

Morneau added: “We’ve done different balance exercises and different stuff where I’m spinning trying to get used to tracking the ball, catch a ball over the shoulder, make your eyes work. It’s trying to reset the brain a little bit. You get hit and everything, as powerful as your brain is, it gets knocked off a little bit and you feel like you’re half a second off. Everything is kind of not registering properly.

“Then when you’re trying to hit 1/8the ball], it makes it almost impossible to hit. You feel like the ball is behind you by the time you recognize what the pitch is. You kind of retrain them, 1/8getting3/8 your eyes used to tracking the ball, ground balls, that type of stuff. We do specific drills for the brain and it’s all real boring stuff to do, but it’s necessary in getting everything right.”

Most important for Morneau and the Twins, he sees greater progress now than after the 2010 season.

“Compared to where I was last year at this time, I’m way ahead of where I was,” Morneau said. “Hopefully I’ll be ready to start spring training.”

Jottings

Jake Deitchler, who earned a berth on the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team as an Anoka High School athlete in 2008 before enrolling at Minnesota, is ending his wrestling career after suffering from recurring concussion problems. … The Gophers wrestling team ranks fourth behind Iowa, which they face Jan. 29 at Iowa City; Oklahoma State, which beat the Gophers 23-14 earlier this season, and Pnn State.

Fortunately the Vikings have superstar Percy Harvin signed through 2013 with the wide receiver getting $915,000 in 2012 and $1.55 million the following year, but that could increase depending on performance incentives.

Now that the NFL season is over, the Vikings’ 2012 opponents are set. They will play their three divisional rivals at home and on the road. At home they will face Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Arizona, Jacksonville and Tennessee. On the road they will again play against Washington and also travel to St. Louis, Seattle, Houston and Indianapolis.

What a good start for St. Paul native and former Gophers wide receiver and new University of Houston coach Tony Levine, whose Cougars beat Penn State 30-14 in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday in Dallas.

Two future Gophers football recruits, Philip Nelson of Mankato West and Maxx Williams of Waconia, played well for the East team that lost to the West team 17-14 in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Tuesday at Phoenix. Nelson completed a 47-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and Williams, a tight end, caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and also punted. Also playing, on the West team, was Andre McDonald of Hopkins.

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