Just when you thought the news couldn't get any bigger than Dennis Green's buyout from the Vikings, Viking Update has learned his departure could very well be just the start of more dramatic changes at Winter Park — and not just on the playing or coaching field.
Viking Update has been told by two sources, one with the team and one who works closely with the team on occasion, that Steve Young and his investment group have an interest in purchasing the Vikings. Young, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, and Brent Jones, the former 49ers tight end, and at least two 30-something businessmen who were part of the Internet billionaire revolution in Silicon Valley a few years ago form the group, according to one of our sources.
"Steve is interested in buying the team," said the source, who has talked to Young about his interest in purchasing the Vikings in the last two months.
And according to the second source, that group is only one of at least two groups that are showing an interest in purchasing in the team.
VU put in numerous calls to other Vikings officials and others with connections to the story Friday, but executive vice president Mike Kelly was in California, and Red McCombs and others did not return our calls.
Young's group had an interest in the Arizona Cardinals, according to an NFL West Coast source, before Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell secured a new stadium for the team this fall. However, one Arizona Republic reporter who has covered the Cardinals' stadium situation wasn't aware of any such interest. Young's group may have learned how much the price of NFL team poker is raised once a new stadium is done. The indications from our West Coast source were that Young's group would have been looking to move the Cardinals to the Los Angeles market, but the Cardinals' new stadium put an end to that.
A new stadium in Minnesota is still a political pipe dream — or nightmare, depending on who you are talking to. The Vikings have been working with the Minnesota Gophers to try and push Minnesota's political leaders toward building a football stadium on the University of Minnesota campus to be used by both teams. But the buyout of Green's contract and the possibility of a new owner can't be completely separated from Green's comments last month when he said anyone who thinks the Vikings and Gophers are getting a joint stadium are "fooling themselves."
That statement went right to the pocketbook of McCombs. McCombs would get back his investment in the team and much more if a stadium solution were to be found, and any investment group could get the team for at least $100 million less without a stadium deal in place.
VU has been told that Young and his group were interested in the Arizona Cardinals, but once Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell secured public financing for a $335 million, 73,000-seat stadium to be opened in 2004, Bidwell's interest in selling or moving fell by the wayside.
But in an August story published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Young said his group's vision was for a team involved in the community and a stadium built without public money. A "community-based stadium … used multipurpose, all the way from Pee Wee league to college," Young told The Chronicle. "That's the vision."
Jones told The Chronicle their group already had enough money to move on a deal if one presented itself. "We're ready to go as soon as possible," Jones said.
However, The Chronicle reporters VU talked to said media in San Francisco weren't taking Young's group all too seriously, but VU's source said Young's group is legitimate.
The questions now are these: How hard is Red McCombs listening to offers? And does not having a long-term coaching staff in place make it more appealing for an ownership group to come in and put their own staff in place in the tight time frame between now and important upcoming NFL dates like the Feb. 28 start of free agency or the April 20-21 draft?
It isn't clear whether Young's interest in the Vikings would include a vision to move the team to the Los Angeles market.
Steve Young Interested In Purchasing Vikings
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