Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf
Welcome to Mankato guys. Beginning of ownership’s eighth season. Time goes by fast.
Q: What are your impressions of the team?
A: They are looking energized, young. We have a lot of veterans who are teaching the young guys. We are looking forward to a great season ahead.
Q: Tell us where you are at with the stadium?
A: Certainly it was a great relief after working very hard for the last seven years. I’d like to thank the Governor and all of the legislative leaders for making this possible. All fans and most of the people in Minnesota want it to happen. Looking back after the last several months, it’s a greater burden than I thought because I feel very much relieved that our fans here in Minnesota will have Vikings football here.
Q: Where are you at with the retractable roof?
A: Right now, as you know, we are just formulating, hiring our consultants, working with the Authority to work on the design. So we are in the early stages. We are going to try our best, as I stated before, to get the retractable roof, but we are going to certainly have retractable elements. It’s going to be state of the art stadium. It’s going to be something everyone in Minnesota can be proud of.
Q: When will we see final plans?
A: The plans will evolve over the next year. We are shooting for having the season opening in the new stadium in 2016. Certainly over the next year, as we design and work with the Authority and getting everyone on board, there is going to be a lot of hard work.
Q: Do you have a date?
A: We have a time schedule, a time chart, but I cannot remember all of the dates. But believe me, there are thousands of things to do before we break ground.
Q: Within the next year?
A: Yes, there are a lot of things for us to do. Both from the Authority standpoint and the Vikings standpoint. We have to hire the right consultants and designers and architects. There is a lot of work before we break ground, but we are confident the time schedule will be met.
Q: What is a reasonable expectation for this team?
A: I expect to be division champs. I want to be able to fight for the division as we always do every year, and get better for years to come. That’s always been our goal. That’s been the goal since the first day I came here.
Q: What do you think of the perception this team is building right now?
A: We have a lot of veterans on board that are going to have to teach the younger guys on the team. I don’t know if you want to call it rebuilding or whatever, but we are certainly going to be improving. The young guys are going to get into the system and with Coach Frazier’s leadership and Rick Spielman’s direction we are going to be competitive and we are going to fight for the division.
Q: Do you feel like you have to take a mentality of being a little more patient given the youth on the team?
A: Absolutely. I mean, things don’t happen overnight. There will be the ups and downs as we certainly have had them in the last seven years of ownership, but you have to be patient. As we were patient with the stadium, we are going to be patient and we are going to work hard to getting a championship ball club.
Q: What makes you believe you will take a step forward this year?
A: Well for the first time in years we’ve had a full draft class, and between this year and last year we’ve got a lot of great rookies coming on board. I think the youth will really help us together with the veterans, the star veterans that we have, will make us a much better team.
Q: What will you measure Leslie (Frazier) on as you monitor his progress as a head coach?
A: Leslie (Frazier) has been working very hard together with Rick (Spielman). The first time in a long time I’ve seen a coordination between both personnel director, general manager as we’ve named him, and Leslie (Frazier). I think that working together gets us the best chance of putting the right guys on the field and being competitive. But I have great high hopes for both of them.
Q: What would you see out of Coach Frazier this year?
A: Continued determination to stay competitive. Know that our players have to buy into what he’s teaching and the system. And I think after the young guys learn from the veterans and learn from the coaches I think that we’re going to get to where we want to go.
Q: Is there a win total he (Frazier) needs to reach to keep his job?
A: No, no, I’m not making any benchmarks. I’m expecting a winning season. Like I said I’m expecting to challenge for the division. Everyone starts out zero-zero, even score, so, I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.
Q: 3-13 last year, how tough was that in retrospect for you guys to go through a season like that?
A: It’s never easy to go through losses; it’s never easy to go through a season like that. Like I said, since we became ownership we’ve had the ups and downs. As somebody asked before we had to be patient is necessary because it’s a tough league, tough competition and our time will come as it did in the past and we’re going to keep on fighting for that championship.
Q: What are your future plans for Winter Park? Is it a sufficient structure for the next decade or so?
A: We’re working on improving the facility as we did in the past. We’re looking at options of what we can do on site to improve the facility. But it’s going to be a goal, together with the stadium to get the improvements.
Q: What are some of the priorities at Winter Park that you’d like to see upgraded?
A: Well, it’s an older facility. We did a lot of improvements in the first few years after we came to ownership to improve the players’ facilities, the locker rooms, and the offices. We’re right now looking into what we can do to expand with the property that we have. As the owners have discussed today, we had meetings today, it’s going to be something that we’re going to re-look into. But right now we really have to focus on getting the stadium moving forward and picking the experts and professionals necessary to bring this on time and on price.
Q: Why was it important for the league to lock out the officials? Are you worried about that
A: The Vikings and I have great respect for the referees through the league, but when it comes to negotiations, I’ll let that be with the NFL.
Q: What are some priorities with the stadium? What are some features of it that you would like to have done?
A: We’re working on that right now. We are working in conjunction with the Authority to get it designed, that really is the state of art. Something that our fans can really look forward to. Something that is different, the newest technologies, all of those the modern experts say that are needed for our stadium to be a 21st century stadium. This being the newest one, you want to make sure that it’s something that the fans will go to not just for football games, but for all the events. There’s a lot of thinking going on into this. We have to hire our professionals and once we get them on board we’re going to investigate every aspect of how to make this stadium the best stadium that we can.