Blogs

2011 Ride For Life Will Take Place On Saturday, July 16

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on May 27, 2011 – 12:00 pm

The Vikings have announced that the 2011 Ride For Life will take place on Saturday, July 16.

More details on the event will be posted soon, but you can keep an eye on this page on vikings.com or call 952-828-6577.


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Submit Your Monday Morning Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 27, 2011 – 8:16 am

The NFL news cycle has grinded to a slow pace of late, but I have a feeling that could change a touch next week. And we’ll start it off on vikings.com with the Monday Morning Mailbag.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. You can also submit your comment or question in the comments section below this entry.

Remember to include your name and town on the email. We can’t post every comment and question, but we’ll try to answer each question.


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Stadium Update – Just The Facts

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 24, 2011 – 2:41 pm

Click here to watch an interview with Vikings VP of Public Affairs/Stadium Development Lester Bagley regarding a status update on the stadium issue in Minnesota.

The stadium situation in Minnesota has been a constant topic of conversation over the last couple of months and ultimately took center stage when Ramsey County announced on May 10 that it had reached an agreement to partner with the Vikings to build a stadium in Arden Hills. Since then, though, the 2010-11 Minnesota Legislative Session ended without a solution to the long-standing stadium issue.

Following the Vikings/Ramsey County announcement on May 10, the proposal has rightfully undergone scrutiny from State leaders, the public and the media. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune alone, no less than a dozen – many critical – articles have been published over the last two weeks on the topic.

Public dialogue surrounding the announcement is crucial in order to ensure the stadium decision is right for the State, the team and Vikings fans. However, the daily media coverage has also led to misinformation or a lack of focus on certain elements of the proposal. That being the case, we wanted to take a moment on vikings.com to dissect several provisions of the Vikings/Ramsey County partnership so our fans and supporters fully understand the stadium issue as it moves forward at the State Capitol.

1) Comparison of sites
Some media have tried to make the case for a stadium at the Metrodome site. First, the Vikings have been clear that the Minneapolis proposal is not viable and the team does not support it. The Vikings worked with Ramsey County for nearly a year and delivered what the team was required to do by State leaders: a viable site, a strong local partner, a workable finance plan and significant contributions by both the team and Ramsey County. The Vikings are 100% focused on the Arden Hills location, which is the ideal site for the future of Vikings football and the best site by far for Vikings fans. Creating a Vikings destination in Arden Hills will bring back tailgating and will create a tremendous game day experience for fans.

2) Ownership of the stadium
The stadium will be publicly-owned and a new Minnesota Stadium Authority (MSA) will oversee the facility and will protect the public’s interest. The MSA will consist of five members – two appointed by the Governor, two appointed by the Ramsey County Board, including the chair, and one appointed by the City of Arden Hills. The MSA will ensure that the facility will host high school and amateur sports, community and civic events and all of the public events that are currently held at the Metrodome.

3) Operating expenses vs. revenues
One of the criticisms of new stadiums around the country is that it’s not just the public covering a portion of debt service, but also covering a significant portion of operating expenses that could range from $14-18 million annually. That criticism does not apply with the Ramsey County-Vikings agreement. Similar to the Minnesota Twins-Hennepin County arrangement, the current partnership between Ramsey County and the Vikings calls for the team to operate the retractable-roof stadium, pay over 90% of the operating expenses, and receive the revenues from the year-round events to help offset those operating costs. While some believe the Vikings stand to gain more revenue from this arrangement, the reality is that the annual operating expenses ($14-18 million) of the facility outweigh the revenues the other events provide.

4) Project cost savings
First, it is extremely unlikely that the construction budget will be reduced. This is an accurate and realistic assessment of the costs of building a multi-use facility that meets the requirements of the public and the team in Arden Hills. The Vikings have agreed to put $407 million, or 39% of the total costs, into the project, while the County has committed $350 million. This provision of the agreement regarding the first $41 million in cost savings was designed so the team would contribute tens of millions more up front than the County; however, as previously stated, a reduced stadium budget is very unlikely.

5) Personal seat licenses (PSLs)
The Vikings have not yet decided whether to pursue personal seat licenses (PSLs) in a new stadium. Regardless, should PSLs be pursued, the team does not anticipate the market contributing anywhere near $125 million, but in respect to the County, the Vikings agreed to put this language in the agreement to protect the public’s commitment. In essence, the provision says if the team raises over $125 million in PSLs, such excess will go back to offset the County’s costs on various items.

Thanks go to Vikings Assistant Director of Public Affairs Jeff Anderson for taking the time to provide information for this update.


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Owners Unanimously Pass Rules Regarding Player Safety

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 24, 2011 – 10:05 am

The NFL’s labor situation has put most non-courtroom football news to rest for the past few months, but today we actually have some on-field football news to report, thanks to the NFL Owners’ meetings that are going on this week in Indianapolis.

According to this article by Albert Breer of NFL.com, NFL owners approved unanimously on Tuesday rules changes that regard player safety. We’ll do our best to breakdown the new rules changes right here but we also expect more clarification to come out in the hours and days ahead. None of these changes are necessarily drastic in terms of how they’ll impact the product on the field, but they are significant changes in that they protect players from harm.

The first change expands the definition of “defenseless player” in the “unnecessary contact” rules, Breer writes. The following types of players will now be considered defenseless: a receiver who “has not clearly become a runner,” a kicker or punter during a return, a QB following a change of possession, as well as a player who takes a blindside block from an opponent “moving toward his own endline” and approaches from the back or side.

The second change relates to the NFL’s “launching” rules, which will now include players who leave both “prior to contact to spring forward and upward,” and a player who “uses any part of his helmet.”

The third change is one I think both defensive players and coaches as well as fans will appreciate. It adjusts the rules prohibiting blows to the head of the QB, specifically making accidental “grazing” a judgment call for officials, rather than an automatic foul.


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 13 Comments »

MN Native Chris Weinke Working With Ponder, Webb

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 23, 2011 – 8:57 am

Chris Weinke is a name with which Minnesota football fans are familiar. He never played a down for the Vikings or the Gophers, but the St. Paul native and Cretin-Derham Hall product was a standout prep athlete in Minnesota and eventually went on to play pro baseball and win a National Championship and Heisman Trophy as a QB at Florida State.

Now there’s another reason Vikings fans should pay attention to what Weinke’s doing – he’s working with Vikings QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb. The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins has a nice piece about Weinke working with the Vikings signal-callers and it should give fans some optimism about each players development.

Weinke recently became director of the IMG Madden Football Academy, located in Bradenton, Florida. As Scoggins notes, IMG is noted for its work with golf and tennis athletes but now, with Weinke in the fold, is taking on football prospects, too. One of Weinke’s clients is Cam Newton, who was taken 1st overall by the Carolina Panthers in April’s draft.

Last week Weinke began working privately with Webb and Scoggins reports that Ponder will join the action this week.

From Scoggins’ piece, it sounds like the work Weinke does with the QBs is legitimate stuff, from studying film to on-field workouts. And it’s not just mechanical studying, either. Weinke works at incorporating the specific offense each player will have to learn once the labor situation is resolved.

“We’re spending about 3 to 3 1/2 hours a day in the classroom installing his offense and watching video,” Weinke said in Scoggins’ piece. “We film everything, we video it, we analyze it. We come back in the afternoon and do some more installation and review some video. It’s really similar to what they would face if they went to a minicamp following the draft.

“I’ll do the same thing with him [as Newton],” Weinke said of working with the Vikings QBs. “There will be an installation of the offense, for him to get familiar with the verbiage and the concepts. We’ll take all that information and go to the field and apply all of that.”

Whether the work and preparation the Vikings QBs will go through with Weinke is as effective as it would be with actual Vikings coaches is unknown. But, even if it’s just a fraction of what they’d learn studying with Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and QBs coach Craig Johnson, the bottom line for me is both Ponder and Webb are learning how to study and prepare; and they’re learning it from a former pro QB who was known as a heady player and a good leader.


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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 121 Comments »

Submit Your Monday Morning Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 20, 2011 – 9:01 am

There isn’t as much activity as we typically see at this point in the offseason, but there are still issues to address and questions to answer. That’s why we have the Monday Morning Mailbag.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. You can also submit your comment or question in the comments section below this entry.

Remember to include your name and town on the email. We can’t post every comment and question, but we’ll try to answer each question.


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 175 Comments »

Ranking NFL Team Helmets

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 18, 2011 – 12:56 pm

In another sign that we are indeed in the midst of a work stoppage, ESPN has used its latest edition of Power Rankings to break down NFL team helmets. ESPN.com has a team of bloggers – one blogger allocated to each of the 6 divisions – and they’ve teamed up to rank the best team helmets.

The Vikings came in ranked 7th on the list with 22 points, while the Pittsburgh Steelers easily took 1st place honors with 50 total points and the Indianapolis Colts came in 2nd with 41. Other NFC North teams in the Top 10 were the Packers (4th) and the Bears (9th); the Lions were 17th.

So what do you think? Where does the Vikings helmet rank in terms of aesthetic appeal?


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 119 Comments »

Reflecting On The Career And Influence Of Harmon Killebrew

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 18, 2011 – 9:37 am

On-field results were far from ideal last year, but the 2010 season will always be one to remember for the Vikings and fans because it was the 50th season in franchise history. Honoring former players was a critical component of the organization’s season-long celebration and that specific effort culminated in a “Celebrating 50 Seasons Gala” in December, an event that saw the franchise unveil its 50 Greatest Players.

The 50th season in Vikings history, including all the work that went into celebrating the franchise’s history, is something I’ll always remember about my time working for the club. The highlight of the season, for me, was the Celebrating 50 Seasons Gala because 46 of the 49 living players from the 50 Greatest list were able to attend and I spent time with all of them.

All of this comes to mind now with the passing of Harmon Killebrew, a Twins legend and Minnesota fan favorite. Diagnosed with esophageal cancer last December, Killebrew, a baseball Hall of Famer and veteran of 22 MLB seasons, battled the disease for 5 months and last week announced he was entering hospice care in Arizona.

“It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end,” Killebrew said in a statement last week. “With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure.”

Killebrew passed away in Arizona on Tuesday morning. He was 74.

“Every nice thing you can say about someone is true about Harmon Killebrew,” said longtime Vikings Head Trainer and current Senior Consultant Fred Zamberletti, who has treated countless professional athletes in Minnesota since the 1960s. “I treated him as a patient, and when he came into my office he was very gracious with everyone inside. He treated people with respect and he’s an outstanding representative of Minnesota. Harmon always had a smile on his face.”

Killebrew is legend in Twins lore, having blasted 475 of his 573 career home runs in Minnesota. He’s 11th on baseball’s all-time home run list and ranked 5th until this past decade; no one hit more home runs than Killebrew in the 1960s. Killebrew, the 1969 AL MVP, was loved by fans and teammates and was always present for the Twins franchise following his playing days. He was an annual visitor to Spring Training, a dedicated and generous member of the local community and a great ambassador of baseball. The next time you visit Target Field, notice the bronze statue of Killebrew outside of the facility.

As sports fans, it’s important to appreciate what former players and legends have done for their particular sport and for our local culture. Whether it be tremendous on-field accomplishments, generous charitable efforts off the field or a combination of both, sports stars serve as influential figures in society – good and bad.

Killebrew is more than a sports star, though. He’s a legend and he is truly a positive influence on those who knew him, those who watched him and those who followed him, from his days of hammering home runs at Met Stadium to his excitement in christening Target Field.

The thoughts and prayers of the entire Vikings organization are with the Killebrew family and the Twins organization. What are your memories of Harmon Killebrew? Share them with us in the comments section below this entry.

Click here to learn more about beating esophageal cancer.
Click here to learn more about the Jimmy V Foundation, which is dedicated to funding cancer research.


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 15 Comments »

Vikings To Pitch And Catch In Florida?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 17, 2011 – 10:14 am

A lot of you have asked either in email to me or in the comments section below news articles and blogs about Vikings players participating in any player-organized workouts. Because I can’t interact with players during the work stoppage, I don’t have an idea of whether or not these workouts are happening with respect to Vikings players.

But according to St. Paul Press writer Jeremy Fowler, who covers the Vikings beat, QB Christian Ponder is going to get together with WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice for workouts in Florida. It sounds like Ponder and Harvin had planned to get together and when Rice caught wind of that, he wanted to participate as well. That’s a good sign, right?

To be honest, I’m not sure there’s much value in large groups of players – offense and defense – getting together for organized workouts during a time of work stoppage. But, I can see the value of QBs and WRs/TEs getting together, especially if those players have never been on the field together.

This is a sensative topic for us to touch because of the work stoppage, so we’ll stop at that for now. But I thought you’d at least be interested in the update.


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Call Your Legislators Today Regarding A New Vikings Stadium

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on May 17, 2011 – 9:45 am

As you know, last week Ramsey County and the Vikings announced an exciting partnership to build a new stadium on the former Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant (TCAAP) property in Arden Hills. This stadium vision provides for a new multi-purpose, retractable-roof facility, along with 21,000 parking spaces, on 260 acres located just 10 miles from the current Metrodome site.

On the heels of that announcement and with the 2011 Legislative Session set to end on May 23, we need you to contact your legislators now and let them know that passing a stadium bill is all that remains. While emails are great, personal calls are even more effective, so we have made it easy for you. Please call your elected officials today.

When calling, remember the following points:

  • The Vikings have done what State leaders have asked. The team found a strong local partner, secured a stadium site, committed a significant team contribution and developed a workable finance plan.
  • The Ramsey County-Vikings proposal is the best opportunity for the State, the County, the team and Vikings fans. The plan calls for nearly 40% of the retractable-roof stadium project costs to come from the Vikings and relies on those who use or benefit to cover the State’s piece. The site creates a “Vikings destination,” offers a typical day-long NFL experience for fans, and its close proximity to both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul allows for major year-round events.
  • Off-site transportation issues should not be the reason this project does not move forward. The infrastructure needs at the site are necessary for the development and growth of the area regardless of whether or not a stadium is built. State leaders should work with the County and the team on these needs and costs.
  • The stadium project is estimated to support 13,000 full and part-time jobs, including 7,500 construction jobs during the three-year construction period. Nearly $300 million of the overall project costs will be wages for construction workers, who currently have an unemployment rate of nearly 20%, and approximately 95% of the total materials and labor costs are expected to go to local tradespeople in Minnesota.
  • The Vikings play an important role in the quality of life for many Minnesotans. Nearly 2.5 million Minnesotans follow Vikings games each Sunday, and we need to retain this cultural asset for future generations of fans.

Thank you for your support!


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