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THE METROPLEX… The Minnesota Vikings football club and the Minnesota state legislature have come to an agreement on a new stadium for the team. The new agreement calls for a stadium to be constructed on the latest popular site, which happens to be next to the current site of the HHH Metrodome. Since the early nineties, several sites have come and gone, and I’ll be darned that if every time it looked like a stadium deal was going to be successful outside of Minneapolis, that deal would run into some new problems or snags with the site. The deal would fall apart only to be replaced with a new site that happened to be in, you guessed it, Minneapolis!
In addition, team ownership groups never seemed to be able to come up with a way to pay for a new stadium by themselves or with any private partnerships or investors. Never mind that most of them are or have been worth a lot of moolah. So, ownership groups dating back to BRM (before Red McCombs) and the previous former owners, known as “the group of 10,” and now “The Zygmeister” (current owner Zygi Wilf), have always wanted the good folks of Minnesota to build their “office” for them. Well, no need to worry about that anymore!
Now, after roughly 20 years of ideas, site selections, financing options, and political doo-doo and deal making, and considering that every other major municipality in the United States is too financially broke to engage in a project like this, the good folks of Minnesota and the good men and women we have elected to represent us have finally worn down a hat-in-hand billionaire to the point that on Tuesday morning the club announced that Zygi would “open” the vault to the Wilf fortunes and fund and build the new Vikings stadium with his own money! Can you believe it?
As an added bonus, the Zygmeister is also going to pony up for all infrastructure improvements necessary to the successful conclusion of this much-debated project. The final tab on this deal will be approximately $1.2 bil, and in addition the deal calls for debate and legislation on a replacement for the new stadium to begin exactly on the 10-year post-construction date anniversary, in an attempt to hold debate on replacement for the new stadium to roughly 10-15 years on the next one. Site preparation and construction will commence this summer, or as soon as team owner Zygi Wilf can write out one of those big 3-by-6-foot fake checks like you see on TV bowling or golf tournaments.
THE NCAA MEN’S ICE HOCKEY TOURNEY regionals took place over the weekend, and there is some not-so-good news for the local defending national champion UMD Bulldogs. They came away Saturday eve with a 5-2 win over Maine, but were eliminated from the tourney on Sunday eve on a 4-0 loss to Boston College. Coming into the tourney, BC was the overall number-one seed, and after winning the northeast regional the Eagles are now on a 17-0 win streak. That is such a rare feat in D1 college hockey that I really can’t recall the last time a team was on such a run. The Bulldogs end the campaign at 25-10-6, but I am certain that this isn’t the way they envisioned the season concluding as they came into the tourney. Until you have been playing or coaching at that level or gotten to witness a team do it, you don’t realize how hard it is to win one title, let alone repeat.
It will be of no solace to the team, but I would like to offer my congrats to them for one heck of a two-season run. As I had believed before the brackets were filled in, and prior to the WCHA Frozen Five, it appeared that UMD was headed for St. Paul, and the Gophers, as hosts, would be there as well. That’s where I made my travel arrangements to, as well as to celebrate my brother’s birthday, and when both the Gophers and Bulldogs lost in the WCHA semis, the brackets got flipped.
I was still destined for St. Paul, but the Dogs went east. I thought this could be good in the end as well. If both teams had made it through their regions, they would have met in the national semifinals in Tampa Bay. And just as the Gopher-NoDak tilt on Sunday was an epic game, anytime the Dogs and Gophs meet up you can say the same. What I would really like, though, at this point is for both schools to dominate the college hockey scene. Why? Well, there is more recruiting competition than ever for real good players. In-state here you now have five D1 schools competing for players, along with NoDak and Wisconsin over here filling out their rosters.
And I know I am getting personal here now, but when NoDak was introduced before both of their games this weekend, they were fielding a starting lineup with four Minnesotans and two Canadians. Wisconny has always had their share of Minnesotans on Badger rosters, too. For a long time now, the Gophs have had predominantly Minnesotan rosters, and in the recent past UMD is more and more Minnesotan roster-wise as well. If Minnesota amateur hockey is going to feed its in-state programs and have to feed NoDak and Wisconny as well because they cannot or will not “build their own,” or shore up their amateur programs, then I would hope that the two “big” programs in our state would get the blue chippers first. I know, not all great players want to stay home, but I keep hoping.
Anyway, I saw a good weekend of hockey in St. Paul, and I think the Gophs played the best two games I have seen them play in a while. They will have their hands full in Tampa because now they are the ones who get a chance at breaking BC’s streak. I would say that if they play the way they did in this past weekend’s games, they just might have a pretty good chance. More on the tourney next week. Until then… PEACE
STADIUM UPDATE: It has been reported in the Twin Cities media that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, with the giant fake check signing about to take place this Friday, has suddenly and mysteriously come up with a broken writing hand and the ceremony has been at least temporarily called off. I’ll keep an eye out for any developments on this…
THE MFAN NHL TOP FIVE FOR 3/26/2012, THE M5:
1. PITTSBURGH PENGWAH… hiccup game Sat., dominate Devs on Sunday
2. ST. LOUIS BLUES… G Elliott gets 8th shutout Sun., club will be tough in Cup
3. NEW YORK RANGERS… Still on top in tough East, with Pengwah on heels
4. NASHVILLE PREDATORS… Radulov back in NHL, could solidify teams scoring
5. VANCOUVER CANUCKS… Added toughness could be playoff tonic for Nucks
OVER & OUT!
Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for the past ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.