As Zygi Wilf and his family enter their eighth season as owners of the Minnesota Vikings, there is a lot of change going on with their franchise. There's a new stadium in the works. There are a ton of new faces in Training Camp. And hopefully, there will be a positive change in the standings for the Vikings in the 2012 season.
Wilf took some time to talk to reporters during Tuesday afternoon's practice to address the present and future of his squad. He likes how they look in camp so far. "They're looking young, energized, the veterans are teaching the younger guys, and we're looking forward to a great season ahead."
He expressed his gratitude and relief for getting the stadium approved, and he said that talks are ongoing about the possibility of putting in a retractable roof. "We're in the early stages. We're going to try our best to get a retractable roof or certainly a retractable element. It's going to be a [state] of the art stadium." Wilf went on to explain that the plans will be finalized over the next year and they're still shooting for the new stadium opening in 2016.
When Wilf was asked of expectations of his team this year, he set them high with the acknowledgement that the Vikings are still pretty young. "I expect them to be division champs. I expect us to fight for the division as we do every year and get better for years to come. It's always been our goal...I don't know if you want to call it rebuilding or whatever, but certainly we're going to be improving."
But of course a team doesn't just go 3-13 one day and win the Super Bowl the next. "We know it doesn't happen overnight. You have to patient. As we were patient with the stadium, we have to be patient in building a championship team." He pointed to the last two draft classes as reason to be excited about the young team and expressed a lot of faith in head coach Leslie Frazier and GM Rick Spielman. Wilf said there isn't a specific win total that Frazier needs to reach to keep his job.
Wilf discussed possible improvements to the Winter Park facility, something that could probably use a few upgrades. "We're working on improving the facility as we did in the past. We're looking at options of what we can do, but it's going to be a goal along with the stadium to improve. It's an older facility. Right now we're looking at what we can do with the property that we have to expand, but right now we need to focus on moving forward with the stadium."
Finally, before addressing what they're looking for regarding stadium features, Zygi acknowledged the impending NFL referee lockout, but said that it's "up to the league" to negotiate. "We definitely want it state of the art with different and new technologies. Everything needed to be a 21st century stadium. Not just for football but for all the events that will be held there."
Some of Wilf's statements about the team might be a stretch, but really he's mirroring what a lot of fans expect--improvement, and a lot of it.