SBD/May 14, 2012/Facilities

Vikings Wasting No Time Setting Sights on Planning, Design Of New Stadium

Vikings facing tight deadline to complete stadium construction in time for '16 season
Several tasks -- from "picking a stadium governing board to the hiring of architects and builders -- must be addressed with urgency” if the Vikings hope to break ground next spring and complete the $975M stadium project in time for the '16 NFL season, according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Hours after legislators signed off on a stadium deal late last week, Vikings officials “began huddling with Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission leaders to map out a construction timeline for the massive development that will reshape the downtown Minneapolis skyline.” Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that officials will “meet again this week” to hammer out details for what comes after Dayton signs the stadium bill. Vikings Dir of Corporate Communications Jeff Anderson said it takes nearly a year for design and prep work, “followed by three years to build” the stadium. Meryhew noted during that time, the Vikings will “play at least one season at TCF Bank Stadium, with the Metrodome razed to make way for the completion of the new stadium.” Assuming the council approves the plan, Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak “must then appoint five people to a newly created sports authority to replace the current Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission and work with the Vikings on nearly every phase of the project.” Mortenson Construction Senior VP John Wood, whose firm managed construction of Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium, said that the project “would probably be ‘fast tracked,’ meaning crews could work on the project's foundations and superstructure during the early months of construction while more intricate interior design work was being completed” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/13).

STADIUM DETAILS: Bagley said there "will be a bid" put out to determine the stadium architect. He said, "There are four or five sports architects who do all the buildings, so those guys will be part of the competition. And then [Vikings Owners] the Wilfs want to do something unique and special in terms of a signature Minnesota facility. ... We're going to try to make something unique, something that would fit a Midwest city and our values in Minnesota, something unique to Minnesota” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/12). The AP's Jon Krawczynski reported the Wilfs “appear to be leaning in favor of a retractable roof for their new stadium." Co-Owner Mark Wilf said that they “want to make the stadium as attractive to fans as possible" (AP, 5/11). ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert noted neither Zygi nor Mark Wilf “would commit to a retractable roof.” Mark Wilf said, “We're going to try to get the maximum number of features within the budgets that we can make this a facility that is going to be exciting to the fans. … To the extent that retractability can get there, we're going to try to do it" (ESPN.com, 5/11). Meanwhile, in St. Paul, Charley Walters reported the stadium “could be worth an annual profit of at least $30 million to the team and perhaps as much as $40 million.” That would be “about triple the Vikings’ estimated annual profit in the Metrodome.” A retractable roof would cost about $40M, and it will be “surprising if the Vikings don’t come up with an aggressive personal seat license plan for more revenue.” Target is “expected to make a naming-rights run at the Vikings' stadium," but the company "can expect formidable competition from U.S. Bank” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/12).

BACK TO SCHOOL: In Minneapolis, Jenna Ross noted the Univ. of Minnesota Friday “advanced a deal that would allow” the Vikings to play at TCF Bank Stadium while their new venue is constructed. The UM Board of Regents approved a resolution that “allows the team to play at the Bank for up to four consecutive NFL seasons, starting in 2013.” Wilf said the team would play there “one season for sure.” Ross noted UM's letter of intent to the Vikings "leaves open the issue of alcohol sales." UM General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said that the Vikings at minimum “want to sell hard liquor in the club seating, boxes and suites ... and beer and wine throughout the stadium.” Rotenberg added he is "not willing to promise what the University of Minnesota would do in the area of alcohol consumption and sale.” Alcohol sales “will need a separate approval by the regents” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/12).

IS A SUPER BOWL TO COME? Mark Wilf said that the Minneapolis community “should try to lure a Super Bowl.” Wilf: “Potentially, as soon as a year from now we could be a bidder. We haven't talked to (National Football League) officials yet about it, but we see no reason why we wouldn't be ripe to put in a bid for a Super Bowl.” An NFL official “acknowledged that the presence of a new stadium is ‘viewed favorably’ by the 32 owners who pick the Super Bowl cities.” Six new stadiums have been selected to host the game since ’04 (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/14). Wilf added, “We haven't talked to officials yet about it, but we see no reason why we wouldn't be ripe to put in a bid for a Super Bowl.” NFL VP/Ventures Eric Grubman said Minneapolis is a “strong competitor” to host a Super Bowl (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/14).

TO MOVE, OR NOT TO MOVE?
Vikings co-Owner Zygi Wilf said relocating the Vikings to L.A. “never was on our mind." Wilf: "From day one, when we took over the franchise, knowing the passion of our fans and knowing the storied history of our franchise, our goal from day one was always to make sure that we build a new home here." The L.A. Times' Sam Farmer said, “I don't think Minnesota was ever really serious about relocating to Los Angeles, and this is a perfect example of L.A. being used, even if L.A. wasn't mentioned, to get a deal done in another city." Farmer: "L.A is so valuable to the league without a team because L.A. is the boogeyman … (because) everybody knows that if a team can relocate to Los Angeles, that puts cities in motion to keep their teams.” He added, "Ultimately, L.A. will probably get a team, but as I said, very valuable without a team” (“NFL Total Access, NFL Network, 5/11).

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