Vikings, Twins Owners Increasing Efforts To Land Expansion MLS Club
MLS later today is expected to officially announce Atlanta as the home for an expansion team, and Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley yesterday said that the team and its ownership are "working to secure" an expansion franchise to play in the new Vikings stadium, according to Nick Woltman of the ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS. Bagley while speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Minnesota Association for Corporate Growth said, "We've been stepping up our conversations with MLS. ... There are definitely other interests in the market." Woltman notes those interests include Twins Owner Jim Pohlad and NASL Minnesota United FC Owner Bill McGuire, who "confirmed last week that they have teamed up to launch a bid of their own" (ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS, 4/16).
TAKING THE RIGHT STEPS? In DC, Steven Goff wrote in "growing first-tier pro soccer and expanding the North American footprint from 10 clubs a dozen years ago to 21 next spring, MLS has gotten it mostly right." But as the "next growth spurt approaches, one can’t help but wonder whether blind ambition, not to mention lucrative expansion fees, have clouded MLS’s judgement." Of the four new clubs, only Orlando City SC "makes perfect sense: an organically grown fan base and a certain stadium project in a city with only one other pro sports team." The others -- NYC FC, Miami and Atlanta -- "are suspect" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/15).
GOING TO WORK: Orlando City SC and the city of Orlando yesterday announced the selection of Populous as the lead architect and Barton Malow as the construction manager for its new stadium. The club also named ICON Venue Group its owner's representative overseeing the project. Construction is expected to begin later this year. The stadium will be operated by the city. Populous will have designed the three newest MLS venues, with the Orlando stadium joining Sporting Park and BBVA Compass Stadium (Orlando City SC).
ROOMMATE AGREEMENT: NYC FC will play its first three seasons at Yankee Stadium, and SI.com's Tim Newcomb noted while it is "not ideal," MLB Fields & Facilities Coordinator Murray Cook said it "is doable." Cook: "It is not the greatest, but it works." Without a "designated width for a soccer field -- just parameters to fall within -- Yankee Stadium’s baseball-first design forces a narrower pitch than typically seen." It also "requires temporary grass every time soccer is played." With the field "running from the left field wall toward the first base line foul territory, sod must cover the vast majority of infield clay." Cook said that laying "ready-play sod has turned commonplace." The Nationals and DC United "streamlined that practice already" when they "shared RFK Stadium nearly a decade ago" (SI.com, 4/15).