Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley on Friday said that the team “plans to play" at the Univ. of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium during the '14 and '15 seasons, while the team's new stadium gets built at the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis, according to Patrick Condon of the AP. Team officials and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority “convened at the dome Friday to finalize the deal" for Minneapolis-based firm Mortenson Construction to earn $12.5M to build the new stadium. That fee “could reach" $15M if the firm meets performance incentives, "but could be lowered if the construction lags.” The Vikings had “hoped to play only one season at the outdoor stadium.” Plans now call for the Metrodome “to be torn down in February 2014 and for the new stadium to be ready to open by July 1, 2016.” The '14 and '15 seasons will be the "first the Vikings play outdoors" since the end of the '81 season. In addition to the “annual payment from the team to the school, the two would split money that comes in from concessions, sponsorship and advertising -- likely about $50,000 a game.” Bagley said that Mortenson “would help the Vikings obtain cost estimates for potentially including a retractable roof, wall or window, or a combination of those.” Bagley said, ''The Vikings are very interested in a retractable feature.” He added that a decision on that “is likely within 90 days" (AP, 2/15). Mortenson Senior VP John Wood said that a retractable roof would cost an additional $25-40M and that money “would need to be found from savings elsewhere in the project” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/16). In Minneapolis, Richard Meryhew wrote with “just 33 months from a planned October groundbreaking to a projected July 2016 opening, time is short” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/16).
MLS DC United Managing Partner Jason Levien said team execs are "very hopeful" of striking a deal to build a soccer-specific stadium in the city to end the club's decade-long search for a new home, according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. Levien said, "The stars are aligning in a good way for us. We’re working closely with the right people and we feel better about it today than we did three months ago, no question." Levien "declined to go into detail about negotiations or provide a timetable for a possible agreement." DC United has "targeted Buzzard Point -- a largely undeveloped area near Nationals Park in Southwest -- for a complex that would accommodate between 20,000 and 24,000 spectators." DC United would "finance the project but require help from the city to cover infrastructure and land acquisition costs." Levien added, "We're pushing the right buttons and making things happen in a good way." He said that the club has "ruled out moving to Baltimore." Levien also has enlisted team counsel David Mincberg "to help push the stadium project" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/16). Meanwhile, Levien said of the club's TV opportunities, "We want to expand our presence, we want it to be more robust. We’re talking to Comcast SportsNet (United's longtime regional partner for game coverage), but others in the media field who want to be involved as well. We want to maximize the opportunity -- more content outside the games, a coach’s show, behind the scenes in the locker room and practice field" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/15).
MAGIC KINGDOM: In Orlando, Schlueb & Damron report Brazilian entrepreneur Flávio Augusto da Silva on Friday "became a major investor" in USL Pro club Orlando City, "bringing an influx of cash that makes it much more likely that Orlando will land a Major League Soccer franchise -- and that taxpayers will help foot the bill for a new soccer stadium." Orlando City Owner & President Phil Rawlins confirmed that da Silva "will eventually be its primary owner." Negotiations also are "under way" between team execs and officials from Orlando and Orange County to build a $105M stadium. Taxpayers would "pay most of the tab for the 18,000-seat facility." MLS plans to "expand in the next few years and is eyeing the Southeast, where it has no teams." Commissioner Don Garber has "all but promised Orlando City Soccer Club a franchise, but a smaller stadium designed specifically for soccer is a prerequisite for admission" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/18).