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Volume 21 No. 23
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Wilf talks charity, Vikings and real estate

The Wilf family, owners of the Minnesota Vikings, are bringing their background in real estate to bear in the Twin Cities, where the team is building the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, its new headquarters and practice facility.

The club also recently announced the formation of the Minnesota Vikings Foundation. The Vikings have long offered grants through their Vikings Children’s Fund, but the new foundation will also create its own programs to serve the community.

Team President Mark Wilf talked to Nick Halter of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, an affiliated publication, in an interview that’s been edited for length and clarity.

Why are you going to a more hands-on approach with your charity?

Wilf: We want to make as big an impact as possible. While we had an incredible history with the Vikings Children’s Fund and raised $12 million for community organizations, we just wanted to rebrand and restart. We want to fundraise, but also be hands-on. We think it’s part of building a first-class organization, that our staff is involved and we put real events on in the community that have a tangible benefit.

This is going to still be about youth and the health and education of youth and some of the disparities among youth in how they are treated.

 Your family’s background is in real estate [in New Jersey] and you’re getting into that locally with your Eagan practice facility. Do you see the family getting more involved with local real estate?

Wilf: We have our hands full with Eagan right now, but the reality is we have properties now in different parts of the Twin Cities and we’re a believer in the Twin Cities market. But right now we are focused on the 40 acres in Eagan. … That will take up most of our organizational efforts between now and March, when we open.

We have a canvass of 200 acres that can be made into a destination for the community and the region, and we can make it really community oriented, whether it’s “Friday night lights,” the Vikings Hall of Fame or training camp.

 Once you get further along in Eagan, will you focus more on the old Winter Park [headquarters] site in Eden Prairie or the parking lots you own near U.S. Bank Stadium?

Wilf: The property downtown near the stadium is relatively small, but that is full of potential for development, as is Eden Prairie. We’re able to juggle a few things. We’re always exploring opportunities as to how to best utilize the properties and enhance the development, but like I said, Eagan is still the lion’s share of our work going forward.

 What’s the renewal rate for season tickets this year?

Wilf: We’re at a 99 percent-plus renewal rate for season tickets. We’ve worked through the wait list to add new season-ticket members. Roughly 90 percent of the stadium is committed on a seasonal basis, and we still have a waiting list for season tickets.

Despite the strong interest, we are always looking for ways to enhance the strong fan experience. We are going to have new food and beverage options this year. We will have additional art pieces. We are going to enhance the app, which has over 300,000 users now. More cell phone charging stations.