Vikes to Switch Channels

The Vikings will be a different team in 2002 and will force fans to change channels to get them in the coming season -- which means more outstate than it will locally.

The flopping of networks is nothing new in Minneapolis. A little more than two decades ago, the Twin Cities experienced a three-channel swap of networks. But Thursday's official announcement of an exchange of Twin Cities FOX and UPN stations means more to Vikes fans in Greater Minnesota than locally.

On Thursday, the rumored flop of channels between local Channels 9 (UPN) and 29 (FOX) was made official. Why does this mean anything? Because Minnesota cable stations found a way to access FOX under its current format and now have to make some changes.

For example, if you were a fan of "The Simpsons" and moved to Duluth, before FOX got the NFL, you were out of luck as it came to network programming. Now WFTC of Minneapolis will become the UPN affilliate and KMSP will become the Twin Cities FOX afilliate.

The difference will be felt much more in outstate Minnesota, where WFTC was hooked into most broadcast cable outlets because of Vikings football. Now, UPN, which arguably has little interest in the hinterland of Minnesota, will be asked to be hooked into local cable programming. Both stations will likely benefit, since they will likely be packaged together, but, while most Vikes fans will be unaffected, those whose only access to the Vikes is through cable, the network switch will result in channel surfing at noon in September until the new homes are found on local cable outlets.

\ * Kailee Wong is already missing time with Houston -- sidelined with a heel injury during the team's minicamp this week.
* Antonio Freeman has not been invited to the Packers minicamp in early June, which some see as an indication that the Pack won't re-sign him. However, VU is being told it's a contract ploy to get him to agree to a seriously reduced contract.
* In a follow-up to a previous VU story, some Twin Cities Vikings followers have misunderstood the inclusion of Cris Carter into the Vikings Ring of Fame as being construed as retiring his number. Seeing as Hall of Famer Ron Yary didn't have his No. 73 retired, the point wasn't that Carter would have No. 80 retired, just that he would be honored at the Dome.
* Marc Trestman doesn't have the title assigned, but he is acting as Oakland's offensive coordinator -- which should get a couple of Twin Cities columnists wondering why he isn't/wasn't named to a similar job with the Vikings.
* A story now circulating in L.A. is that the city may not have the interest in being pimped for a new NFL franchise as many think. Apparently, opposition to a half-billion-dollar commitment may be a little too steep for non-football fans to handle.

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