Tagliabue seeks new Vikings stadium
BY GREG JOHNSON and BILL WILLIAMSON
MANKATO, Minn. â€” NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said finding a way to finance a new stadium for the Vikings remains a high priority for the league.
Tagliabue, who addressed both the Vikings and Chiefs while attending practices on Friday, has visited with Gov. Tim Pawlenty and is pleased that Pawlenty is trying to find ways to finance a stadium.
"We are just going to keep working on that, and taking advantage of what this team is â€” a meaningful asset opportunity for this state,' Tagliabue said. "We will try to work with the authorities to get a stadium done.'
Tagliabue said he realizes Minnesota taxpayers are reluctant to build a home for a multi-million dollar business but has seen other places get it done. The stadium has been a major issue since Red McCombs bought the team in 1998.
"I have been a bit frustrated... that not as much progress has been made as we had certainly hoped,' Tagliabue said. "We are going to re-double our efforts and try to make certain that this team is here in a new stadium in the near future.'
For the Vikings, it's the same problem.
"There is nothing really new, and we'll wait until the legislative session comes back in,' team vice president Mike Kelly said. "But it gets more acute as time passes. The governor appears to be trying to find an answer, but they have to get a budget deal done. Until they get the business of running the state in order, they are going to have a hard time addressing some side issues.'
Rules emphasis: The Vikings and Chiefs workouts were conducted under the watchful eye of NFL referees, who threw some flags to make some points. For the most part, however, they instructed players on new points of emphasis for the 2004 season.
Officials have been told to watch if defenders are making illegal contact on receivers after the five-yard limit and to watch for defensive holding penalties at the line of scrimmage. The last point of emphasis will be flagging illegal blocks in the back and above the waist on kick returns.
The NFL also wants more 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties called if two or more players are involved in a choreographed celebration. Any foreign objects brought on the field, such as Terrell Owens' Sharpie or Joe Horne's cell phone, will result in ejection.
Also, punts that cross the goal line will now be blown dead for touchbacks.
Injury report: Tight end Jim Kleinsasser was limited in the evening practice after suffering a minor ankle injury in the morning session. He should practice today. Running back Moe Williams was held out of the late practice because of a sore calf.
As expected, receiver Marcus Robinson (hamstring) and tight end Jermaine Wiggins (shoulder) did not work out and will likely rest until practice next week.
Running back Onterrio Smith (hip flexor), receiver Keenan Howry (sore knee) and defensive end Darrion Scott (arch) all sat out the evening practice.
Briefly: Tice thought the team's young linebackers struggled against the Chiefs, who exploited the middle on run plays and passes to tight ends.
â€¢ The agent of recently released offensive lineman Lewis Kelly received a couple of calls from interested teams on Friday .
â€¢ Receiver Kenny Clark will have season-ending back surgery next week.