Lurtsema's Reaction: Outdoor Stadium

With the Wilf ownership group talking about an outdoor stadium, it makes sense to find out how much of an advantage that might be by talking with a former Viking that played at the old Metropolitan Stadium. See what Bob Lurtsema thinks of Wilf's outdoor stadium idea.

VU: What about the outdoor stadium idea? Are you in favor of that and do you think it is something that can work here?

I love the idea of an outdoor stadium. Both Mark and Zygi asked me about it because they're for the outdoor stadium. That's where football should be played. I gave them my typical answer. He asked me how I thought the fans felt, and I said, ‘Here's what the fans want: They want a place for their motor homes, to tailgate, they want a place for their charcoal grills, a place for the picnic tables, a place for the cars. And then if there's enough space left over they want you to build them a stadium.' Both of them understood that tailgating is a big aspect of it, of the game itself and being outdoors. The retractable roof is one thing, but playing in the elements, in my five years with the Vikings there was only two questionable games as far as weather went. In my 12 years in the league, there were only two games and those were here (in Minnesota). In Seattle, of course, I played in the dome.

VU: The advantages talked about in the Bud Grant era, do you think they are overplayed or are they real – the advantages that a cold-weather, outdoor-stadium team has?

They're a big-time advantage. The easiest way to explain it is, people will always say that your adrenaline will carry you. But it's no different for each and every individual, if you get a sudden weather change and it's cold all the time and it turns 80 one day, my gosh you think you're going to die it's so hot. Vice versa, if it's 80 and all the sudden it drops to 55, you go through such a tremendous change. It's the same with West Coast people heading out East. Not only are they facing the elements, they're also facing a two- to three-hour time change, so if a game is at 12 and you fly from California, you're actually playing the game at 10 o'clock your time. Your body has gone through that change and also you're used to 80-degree weather or 70-degree weather all the sudden down to 10 degrees or 30-degree weather, it's a big change. Yes, there is a definite home-field advantage.

VU: Do you think the local business community and sponsorship money, suite sales would be there if it's an outdoor stadium and it's a December game?

I think your suite sales would do a lot better because without having a retractable roof, you could probably go an extra story higher, along the sidelines, like at Lambeau Field. You could head straight to the sky a lot easier than you could if you had a retractable. I think you'd have to control the height and the curvature of the stadium itself with a roof. The support would be there, there's no doubt about it.

VU: Zygi also said right now the board of directors is basically the ownership group. But as he gets more comfortable he wants to involve both community leaders and he even mentioned putting alumni of the Vikings on that board. Do you agree with that, wouldt you be interested in that, and what's your advice for anybody that might be on that board?

With the alumni itself, that would be an honor to be involved. I would jump all over that with that type of commitment to the community. I'm sure that the way he makes business decisions, he'll be selective enough that he'll get the alumni that best represents the total package of how he feels about football, about the Minnesota Vikings and about the community. In any organization, you have some dead heads in there and I know for a fact they'd be very selective. If I was asked, it would be an honor and I'd help in any way possible. Like I said earlier, the passion they have for the game, how can you not help somebody continue on to let them be successful in a sport that you were lucky enough to play in. That would be a great honor. I've always said that it's an honor to play in this league, it's not a right.

VU: Zygi is talking about buying land and developing everything around it, whether that's apartments or housing or businesses. Was that something that Red McCombs was missing out on in the fact that you could make it a more profitable venture if you build the stadium and develop the land around it yourself?

Red didn't miss out on anything. When you pick up $400 million roughly in the six years he was here, I think Red didn't miss out on anything at all. He's a car salesman and Zygi is, of course, a real estate developer. That's his forte. Red didn't miss a thing. Red even got a bonus when he signed all these players to help Mike Tice take it all the way and deferred their bonuses until July 1. There's your car salesman.

  • Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his column appears in the magazine.

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