Vikings likely to open stadium vs. Packers

The Vikings' first game in their new stadium in 2016 is likely going to be against their closest rival, the Green Bay Packers, according to the team's vice president of stadium development, Lester Bagley.

If you're going to break news, how about breaking it three years before it happens?

On Sunday, gamblers got "a tell" that could pay off if they have the savvy and patience to let the wine ferment.

On the after-the-news sports shows Sunday night, Vikings stadium point-man Lester Bagley was being interviewed on KARE-11, the Twin Cities NBC affiliate. As the discussion turned to the artsy look of the new stadium, Bagley was Minnesota-nicely goaded by interviewer Dave Schwartz to respond to social media comments from Packers fans about the design of the new stadium. As would be expected, the responses from Packer Nation were as original as the seat-configuration of Lambeau Field.

Bagley, in a moment of candor, shot back at the disparaging remarks from Green Bay fans by giving those in the business of increasing local economic activity in area bars and restaurants a little "behind the curtain" info.

Bagley said that Packers fans will likely be in a position to give a first-hand review of the new Vikings stadium because, as he was quick to point out, the recent history of new NFL stadiums is to have the pomp and circumstance of the first game occur against a team its fan base hates most. For the Vikings, that team would be Green Bay.

Bagley effectively said that, when the new Vikings stadium opens in 2016, the first home game will be against Green Bay. For the "glass half-empty" crowd, that could also translate into a December visit to Lambeau.

While it's impossible to lock down the date of the Vikings' home opener in the new stadium – Week 1 or Week 2 unless there is bad buzz about the "turn over the keys" date – it would seem that the wheels of the "big event" atmosphere are already in motion. How does this impact the low-level Minnesota gambler?

It's quite simple for moderate risk-takers. Make the simple offer of going halves on a 2016 season ticket package with a close friend (and dupe) and make the pre-emptive caveat that, while the two of you will split the tickets lottery-style – I pick one, you pick one – you really want the tickets for the home opener. That's a deal breaker.

If a self-styled "I go to every game" Packers fan wants to attend the game at Minnesota, it has always come with a price. In most cases, a pretty inflated price. The first game in Minnesota's new stadium? As MasterCard P.R. wonks would say, "priceless." It would pay for the other three games on your season pass to sell them to desperate Sconnys. Is it a sure thing? Definitely not. It is a hot tip? You got that right.

Some might say such a notion is a risk-reward proposition. If the Vikings open the new stadium against the Lions, it's a lose-lose prop bet. But those are the same people who were willing to bet $500 on Orb Saturday in order to win $300. No risk, no reward.


  • Chad Greenway's inclusion at No. 70 in the NFL Network's ranking of the top 100 players shouldn't go unrecognized by football fans – Vikings fans or otherwise. Simply by the numbers, it says that Greenway is viewed by the NFL world as one of the best linebackers in the league and one of the pre-eminent outside linebackers in a 4-3 defense. Being No. 70 may not make a lot of Vikings fans stand up and take notice, but it is an achievement that has been hard-earned and perhaps a year or two overdue in recognizing Greenway as a dominant player at his given position. See how many more 4-3 OLBs make the list.

  • Coming directly from the Department of Ironics comes this: Charles Woodson, a superstar in Oakland long before he ever came out of the home-side locker room at Lambeau Field, is in talks with the Detroit Lions as a possible landing spot. The Packers have seemingly played the hard-line with Woodson, giving the same "why don't you just retire and make this simple" speech they gave Brett Favre. Woodson likely will retire a Packer, complete with the obligatory one-day contract. Unless the Packers are convinced that Woodson has nothing left in the tank, they should at least make a reasonable pay-slashing offer to let him play a reserve role and remain a locker room leader. If Woodson signs in Detroit, it would be the ideal irony – a round peg in a square hole with the dysfunctional Lions defense and animosity with the Packers is the last thing another vestige of Packer lore needs is to actually show back up at Lambeau Field. Perhaps the best solution is for Woodson to sign with an AFC South team. The Packers won't face any of them again until 2016 and Woodson likely will be two years closer to making his final landing spot in Canton.

  • Many Vikings fans speculated that with of the Vikings' three first-round draft picks, they were going to select Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. Instead, he ended up going in the second round to San Diego. The Chargers have dealt with the anticipated media crush around Te'o by taking an interesting approach – keeping him away from the media at all costs. On the first day of the Chargers' rookie minicamp, Te'o was made available to the media. Since then, despite repeated requests from multiple news sources, the Chargers have kept Te'o out of the reach of the media. One can only wonder if the Vikings front office or the players in the locker room would have taken a similar approach – or been able to get away with it for three weeks?

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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