Lurtsema's Reaction: Stadium Message

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema was part of a special advisory committee meeting and came away with some visions and statistics regarding the Vikings' stadium hopes in downtown Minneapolis.

VU: What's the general purpose of the advisory committee?

BL: The people they brought in there were quite a cross-section of the Twin Cities area, and even to a degree the state of Minnesota with Habitat (for Humanity) and other charitable fund-raising organizations. I think they grasped a feel in a very positive sense, especially with the new stadium situation, where the Vikings are basically throwing 25 to 30 percent of the cost for the stadium and at this point they're only using it 3 percent of the time. The Metrodome is used for over 300 events. I think they're trying to get the people that were at that meeting to try to get the message as much as they can to the average person that it's not just for the Vikings. It's for every imaginable charity, it's for every high school, they have end-of-the-year picnics over there at the Dome. That's the part people never talk about. It's just Zygi Wilf, greedy Zygi Wilf, but Zygi's not greedy on this deal. Sure, he wants to get his quarter of a billion dollars back, but they only use it 3 percent of the time and they're throwing in almost 30 percent of the money. I think the media has misconstrued the approach of Zygi Wilf.

VU: What do you think the other people at the meeting took away from it? Was it a positive?

BL: Absolutely a positive, because the thing that was structured so well was Zygi and what an eye on the Super Bowl he has. He threw in a bunch of other things: He wanted a Super Bowl, he wanted a Final Four – all these other major attractions you can bring. I love Zygi Wilf's attitude and approach. He wants it not only for himself but for the fans. He loves to win, and he wants a Super Bowl team here. And I don't think you'd have a meeting like this if his heart and soul weren't in it – but he's saying, ‘How do we get this thing rolling, how do we get everybody on this winning bandwagon?' With it being such a tremendous draft with Adrian Peterson and they got who they wanted, it's a huge plus and he was just trying to bring out all the positives. Sometimes people dwell too much on the negative and Zygi's not that type of guy.

VU: Was there any sort of talk about the NFL contribution and where they stand with their (financial) programs?

BL: Not really. I'm so much behind that new stadium down there. It's state of the art and I think it would be just fantastic. For my kids and my grandkids, that stadium is just the only way to go. The NFL is going to make a contribution, I'm just not sure to what degree. The thing that it helps with is that players have changed. Their attitude, the money, the whole works – you can't live in the old days like I do sometimes. We were just glad to be there, but now the way the game's changed, players do look at going to a new stadium, having better workout facilities, and it's part of their decision when they decide which team they're going to go to in free agency.

VU: What about the surrounding area with a new downtown stadium?

BL: They presented the outline of what he wanted to add to the surrounding areas as far as a shopping center, condominiums, the whole works – it's beautiful. Any city, if you want to maintain everything that you have going for you, to get a facelift on a city like this with hardly any cost, it's a tremendous plus. Take Detroit and all the troubles they have; a city can go to hell in a hand basket awful quick if they don't keep updating things. Here you've got something that is going to be updated and state of the art. You've got a very positive owner with a positive approach trying to put the whole package together for us.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, 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 monthly column appears in the magazine.

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