As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was at the Minnesota Associated Press Sports Editors convention on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.
I blogged yesterday about what one of our two speakers – former University of Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi – had to say to the group. You can find that here.
Our second and final speaker was Lester Bagley, who is the Minnesota Vikings vice president of public affairs and was the point man for the team’s pursuit of a new stadium. The Vikings will get that stadium after its bill was passed and signed during the last legislative session in St. Paul.
Here are a few notes from our Q&A session with Bagley:
- On a couple of different occasions, Bagley referenced the difficult environment at the Minnesota Capitol due to the lack of bi-partisanship. I asked Bagley if he thought partisanship was worse now than it was when he started working on the team’s need for a stadium. Bagley said, “Yes. I do. I think it’s a difficult environment down there. … In my estimation it has gotten much more partisan. I don’t think it’s one side or the other. … It should be hard (to get a stadium built). But it also shouldn’t have been as difficult. I hope it gets better over there.” He thought both sides were seeking election advantages.
- On the stadium’s potential design: Bagley said there are “five or six stadium architects” that the team has to choose from. “It’s an open competition.” He said the Wilf ownership group has an idea for a winter garden train station. He also mentioned they would like to see a place for fans to gather, like there is at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
- He reiterated that the Wilfs would like to get a retractable feature “in some capacity” at the new stadium. The Wilfs have committed $477 million to the $950 million stadium project, and Bagley said he’s be surprised if the Wilfs went beyond $477 million in order to fund the retractable feature. It would have to fit into the pre-agreed to budget for the stadium.
- On the struggles to get a stadium built: “It did seem up front many times that this was not in the cards. … I don’t believe the Wilfs would ever have moved the team.”
- On the team’s ability to play at TCF Bank Stadium while waiting for a new stadium to be built: Bagley said that TCF would need improvements, notably weatherization, increased seating (possibly in the end zone under the scoreboard) and increased concessions.
- On the team continuing to hold training camp in Mankato: Bagley said that the Mankato contract was among the contracts that had expired. He said there “are things that need to be addressed” in Mankato, but said that “it’s really a special place and relationship” for the Vikings.
- On a future Super Bowl: Bagley said the team had “put an oar in the water” for a Super Bowl in 2017.