We're Black and Blue All Over:
Good morning. There's nothing like a long weekend in January to offer unfettered snow shoveling time and a deadline-free Pro Bowl watching environment.
While we were gone, Richard Meryhew of the Star Tribune published a story that has reverberated around the Twin Cities sports scene. It detailed the fight between the Minnesota Vikings and its future landlord over the design of their new stadium. Namely, the sides are at odds over how much flexibility the facility should have to squeeze in a baseball diamond for the hundreds of high school and college baseball games it will host during the cold weeks and months of the early spring.
The Vikings are holding firm to a design that would put the right field fence 285 feet and the power alley 319 feet away from home plate. Those distances would allow them to put football seats 44 feet away from the field, a proximity that presumably would sell at a high price, but they fall below standards for college games.
The team's landlord wants a bigger baseball dimensions, pushing back the football seats. An extended dispute could disrupt the timeline to open for the 2016 NFL season.
Gov. Mark Dayton has referred to the $975 million structure as "The People's Stadium" because of taxpayers' $498 million contribution. The idea was to allow Minnesotans access to it whenever football games are not being played, and the Vikings were well aware of that component when they made their $477 million investment. There is surely room for compromise here, but the issue is a reminder that the facility isn't and can't be a football-only stadium. In order to secure funding, the Vikings had to accept a less-than-ideal arrangement. If they wanted their ideal, they could have funded it privately. Groundbreaking is scheduled for October 2013.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune compares the Vikings to the San Francisco 49ers based on their rosters.
Recently retired NFL player Chris Harris has joined the Chicago Bears' coaching staff, notes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Bears' new linebackers coach is Tim Tibesar, who was Purdue's defensive coordinator last season and worked for Bears coach Marc Trestman in the CFL from 2009-11. Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com has more.
Dickerson reviews the NFL's free-agent list of linebackers as part of a series.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's fiancé told DNAinfo.com Chicago that she hopes to steer their son, Camden, away from football.
The Detroit Lions have added another set of eyes to their front office by hiring former Denver Broncos general manager Brian Xanders as a senior personnel executive, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Lions coaches made solid impressions on players at the Senior Bowl, according to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders if the Green Bay Packers should consider drafting an offensive tackle in the first round -- again.
Packers safety Sean Richardson's neck surgery should allow him to resume playing football in 2013, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.