Lurtsema's Reaction: Stadium and suspensions

The Vikings' stadium quest was shot down this year and the situation is becoming more worrisome for Vikings alumni like Bob Lurtsema, who isn't nearly as confident about the team's future as he used to be. See what he thinks of the financing options and what he thinks of the pending suspensions to Pat and Kevin Williams. Is there an advantage to the timing of serving those suspensions?

VU: The legislative session ended on Monday with nothing passed for the Vikings stadium financing. Do you think this will get done next year?

BL: They had some great ideas this year and the politicians turned their backs and walked away. I know they were $3 billion short on the budget and they had to stay over an extra day and get that straightened around, although I believe they are delaying some school payments, which I don't understand and will have to get more information on. I've always been real cocky and confident that they're going to bring it all together. I'm not getting that way anymore. I've seen too many things go on with the political aspect of it and twisting things around, especially with the money, and with what's happening with our national picture. For the first time ever, I'm thinking they just might move.

VU: Gov. Tim Pawlenty said on Monday that the stadium issue will have to be addressed next year, but he isn't going for re-election. Do you think the Vikings are going to have to start over from ground zero with a new governor?

BL: No, because I've talked to Pawlenty and he truly is for the Vikings. He's really a hell of a nice guy. He'll try to make some progress and then the progress that he makes, whether it be with the casinos and Native Americans, he'll pass on down to the next governor because this is too big of an issue. The average person is always talking about politics and they always refer to the arts, but major corporations look for cities that have a professional football, basketball or baseball team. That's what the 3Ms and all the bigger companies want for their employees. I totally understand the average person's confusion with the whole stadium situation. I've been blessed to be involved with the bigger corporations with the different things I've done and I see the greater picture. Weighing both things together, the greater picture is that it's a no-brainer.

VU: When they introduced the bill, most of the onus for the public financing was on the fans with user fees. Then when it got to committees, they changed the emphasis to personal seat licenses (PSLs), apparently because Pawlenty thought the user fees were new taxes and he couldn't support that.'

BL: User fees are one thing. But Pawlenty couldn't support anything that had racino in it because of the legal issues with gambling. They couldn't get that passed. With the PSLs, when they're asking so much per season ticket for the Vikings' season-ticket holders, it would be a total bust. They did that in New York with the Giants stadium there. I've been back there a few times, having played there five years and the people were upset. A lot of them didn't even renew their season tickets because it was so expensive to pay for the seat, and that didn't even pay for the tickets yet. That's a stupid idea and the Vikings would lose a lot of season-ticket holders if the politicians tried to go that route. The reason they are sold out now is because of Brett Favre. They struggled to sell out for a few years before that and Brett Favre was the savior of the franchise.

VU: I don't think the PSL idea would fly either, but what about the user fees like extra taxes on jersey sales and hotel stays and that sort of thing?

BL: User fees are good. Everywhere I go, it seems like I'm paying some type of user fee. I have no problem with that whatsoever. You hate to be redundant and talk about the jobs and what the restaurants do and the extra help they hire, but the money that comes in and is used because of the football team, that money turns 10 to 12 times before it leaves the state. Gas stations to hotels to waitresses to dish washers – you name it – that money turns 10 to 12 times before it leaves the state.

VU: When it comes to the Williams Wall and StarCaps, there could be another ruling on it this week. Do you think it was a mistake for them to try to appeal it as long as they have or what are your feelings on it?

BL: My feelings are, No. 1, I'm anti-drugs. I never tried drugs because I was always afraid I might like it. That's the truth. The thing with this case, the drug in this case, bumetanide, wasn't on the label. If the NFL pinpoints that it's in a product that isn't labeled with it, then they should come out with it and make sure a warning is mailed to every one of the trainers. The court is 100 percent wrong on this. Roger Goodell, I like the image he's trying to project, but there's a correct way to do it.

VU: If Pat Williams and Kevin Williams do have to serve these suspensions, is there an advantage to doing it at the beginning of the season vs. the end of the season or even if they have the option to not serve them at the same time?

BL: The advantage would be serving them in the first games. You want to do that because the offenses don't really jell that early. You don't see a lot of high-scoring games in the first weeks of the NFL season. In training camp, they go through all that and camp is open to everybody and everybody can see the plays that are going on, so they don't put in everything. So the first regular-season game, they are running plays that they haven't been working on during the entire offseason. The offense is going to be weaker than defenses at the beginning of the season. Once the offenses start clicking in the middle of the season or at the end of the season, you don't want to have your two best tackles out. Have them both go down the first four games. Some people might say those are tough games, but every game is tough.


Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.


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