NFL team on the verge of a new stadium

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NFL team on the verge of a new stadium

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings' hopes of a new stadium are one affirmative vote away from becoming reality. Only a state Senate vote stands between the franchise and the 975 million stadium the Vikings would move into ahead of the 2016 season. The House passed the stadium plan early Thursday by a 71-60 vote. The stadium would lock down a treasured team no longer bound by a stadium lease, but also would go down as the one of the largest subsidized projects in state history at a time of tight government budgets. The reworked bill has the Vikings paying 477 million, a significant cut above the figure team officials had once described as "set in stone." Though the package was tougher, it was clearly the team's only chance to replace the Metrodome, a 30-year-old facility the Vikings say has outlived its usefulness. Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team's billionaire owners, New Jersey developers Zygi and Mark Wilf, decided to lock in the deal rather than hold out for better terms, knowing the Legislature had only two days left to act. "It is a heavy lift but it is the right thing to do for Minnesota," Bagley said. The Vikings intend to take advantage of an NFL loan program, sell naming rights and possibly impose seat license fees to help cover the team's end of construction costs. As revised, the fixed-roof stadium would draw on 348 million in state money, plus 150 million from an existing city of Minneapolis hospitality tax. Under the bill, the Vikings would sign a 30-year lease on a stadium to be built on the site of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The team would pay about 13 million annually in operating fees, though a public authority gets the power to rent out the building on non-game days for concerts, conventions and special events. The Wilfs would get exclusive rights to recruit a professional soccer team to Minnesota. The bill gives the Vikings the option to upgrade to a retractable roof, but at their expense. Bagley said the Vikings haven't decided if they'll make that enhancement. The state's share was to come through expanded gambling, which some legislators opposed on principle. Others worried the state overestimated the money it would get by authorizing charitable organizations to offer electronic versions of pull tabs, a low-tech paper game offered in bars and restaurants around the state. Rep. Morrie Lanning, a Republican who was the stadium's chief House advocate, said getting the required votes depended on upping the team contribution by 50 million. The team long said it would give no more than 427 million. "We knew we had to drive a hard bargain and we drove a hard bargain," he said. If the Senate gives its OK later Thursday, the bill goes to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature, a near certainty given the months he has pressed legislators to come up with a stadium deal that would guarantee the Vikings don't get lured away. The city of Minneapolis would have a month to consent, which is considered a formality. Outgunned but not going quietly, opponents expressed disgust that lawmakers were bowing to baseless fears of the team leaving if it doesn't get a new stadium. "I think the state got rolled. Our constituents got rolled," said Rep. Tina Liebling, a Democrat from Rochester. "I think we can do much better." Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen was among those to slam the state's decision to authorize thousands of mini-gambling devices in bars and restaurants and take a cut of the profits. He characterized the plan as preying on people addicted to gambling. "Rather than Robin Hood, we're robbing the poor to subsidize the rich," said Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe. But ardent fan Larry Spooner Jr., the leader of a band of Vikings fans who held daily vigils at the Capitol during stadium discussions, was giddy with excitement. Spooner said he would hold off on celebrating until all of the votes were done. "We are Vikings fans," he said. "We are prepared for the worst."

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Need to Know: Twitter Redskins mailbag—Surprise cuts, improvement on defense

Need to Know: Twitter Redskins mailbag—Surprise cuts, improvement on defense

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 23, 34 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 173 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles in FedEx Field in 79 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 24
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 48
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 71

Fan questions—Twitter edition

I put up a tweet asking for fan questions and the questions I got required answers of the rapid-fire variety. So here we go (I answered some Facebook questions yesterday).

I think fans should be cautious about believing that new is necessarily better. That said, I would look for some modest improvement. If the pass rush delivers they should be better on third down. If the addition of Jonathan Allen upgrades the line they should be better against the rush. How fast can Allen and Ryan Anderson get up to speed? Enough pieces might come together to move them up from sub-mediocre into the middle of the pack. But a lot can go wrong.

Chances are that when they put out the first depth chart during training camp that rookie Chase Roullier, the sixth-round pick, will be the second-team center. If he is not ready, I think Roullier will be bound for the practice squad and the Redskins will find a veteran backup C on the waiver wire.

I’ve heard that floated around out there and it’s a pretty interesting proposal. There are some issues that would have to be worked out. For one thing, if the money is truly fully guaranteed then the Redskins would have to put every dime of it in escrow. They have a lot of cash but putting $88 million aside would create a cash flow pinch. And I’m not sure if it’s enough of a lure for Cousins. Big, long-term contracts are essentially guaranteed for at least three years because of the painful cap hit it would take to end the contract early so there wouldn’t be much added security.

That’s sort of a contradiction there, Chet. If a cut is “likely” in any way it’s not exactly a “surprise”. But to look at some who may go, I think that DeAngelo Hall could be in danger. His departure would surprise some. On the D-line, numbers may squeeze out Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 draft pick. There are a few more on the bubble but I don’t think any rise to the level of, say, Stephen Paea and Perry Riley getting cut in camp last year, something that in Junen few thought would happen.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Wizards score key signings in Devin Robinson, Michael Young for summer league

Wizards score key signings in Devin Robinson, Michael Young for summer league

The two most notable additoins to the Wizards' roster for Las Vegas summer league -- Michael Young and Devin Robinson, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com -- were secured late Thursday after the NBA draft ended without them trading or buying in for a pick.

The Wizards traded No. 52 on Wednesday to the New Orleans Pelicans for backup point guard Tim Frazier. They will hold minicamp in Las Vegas rather than Verizon Center before summer league begins at Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV.

Their first game is July 8 vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. They're guaranteed at least five games in the tournament-style format.

Second-year players Sheldon Mac and Daniel Ochefu will be there along with Chris McCullough, who was a late-season addition for the Wizards when he was acquired in a trade for Bojan Bogdanovic.

[RELATED: 5 things to know about Devin Robinson, a PF from Florida]

Robinson (Florida) and Young (Pittsburgh) went undrafted after the 60 selections were made. The Wizards also will bring in Kris Jenkins (Villanova), a D.C. area player who made the game-winning shot to win the 2016 national championship for the Wildcats, Kevin Pangos, Maalik Wayns and Marcus Keene.

Wayns played for the Wizards at summer league previously but he was derailed by a knee injury. 

The signings aren't fully guaranteed deals. But roster spots are open now that the Wizards have moved on from Brandon Jennings and Trey Burke, both being allowed to become free agents.

In the offseason, teams can carry up to 20 players but will have to trim down by the end of training camp when it wraps in October.

[RELATED: Wizards go without pick for 2nd year in a row]