Vikings say MLS, NFL teams would be equals in their new stadium

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

By Mike Kaszuba

Minneapolis Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings pushed their case Tuesday to land a Major League Soccer team by releasing images showing how its new $1 billion football stadium could be reconfigured for soccer games.

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In what has become a race for a franchise between two well-financed groups in Minnesota, the Vikings’ owners explained how the new stadium — now fewer than two years from opening — could morph from a 65,400-seat football stadium into a 20,000-seat soccer stadium by “curtaining” seats with large panels and advertising boards. The team displayed images of the new publicly-subsidized stadium with a large MLS soccer logo superimposed on it, and aired a video showing both football players scoring touchdowns and soccer players scoring goals in the facility.

Vikings officials, meanwhile, promised that soccer “will be equal” to the National Football League inside the stadium.

“This is not a second thought,” said Steve Poppen, the Vikings’ chief financial officer. “We’ve talked a lot about an MLS team being on par with the NFL franchise” at the stadium.

Tuesday’s unveiling came as Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and his family are competing for an MLS franchise with former UnitedHealth Group executive Bill McGuire, who has been joined by the Pohlad family, the owners of the Twins, and Glen Taylor, who owns the Timberwolves.

McGuire’s group has said less publicly but reportedly wants to build a separate, soccer-only stadium near Target Field, and has enlisted the support of Mike Opat, the Hennepin County Board chair.

The Vikings enlisted their own supporters Tuesday, with former MLS star and ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman telling a small gathering at the team’s stadium headquarters in Minneapolis that an MLS team in Minnesota “will challenge the Twins, the Wolves and [pro hockey’s Minnesota] Wild” for fans.

“There are kids in the United States of America that have never owned a baseball glove,” he said.

How soon Minnesota might have an MLS team was, however, tempered somewhat Tuesday by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who delivered his annual state-of the-league remarks in New York but was vague on Minnesota’s chances of getting a team.

—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC