The Minnesota Vikings officially closed on their purchase of the former Northwest Airlines property Tuesday – likely the last big hurdle between the team and moving its headquarters from Winter Park in Eden Prairie to a new facility in Eagan.
The purchase closing now gives the Vikings an enormous 185-acre piece of land that will serve as the team headquarters, a practice facility and areas around the team property for the potential of a 150-room hotel, a conference center, office space, retail stores, restaurants and apartment buildings.
In a statement Tuesday, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said, “We continue to believe this 185-acre site offers many positive attributes, including space and flexibility, proximity to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as to the airport, and an opportunity to transform a vacant piece of property for the benefit of the community and the region.”
The Vikings are also expected to close on the purchase of a nine-acre parcel adjacent to the site to bring the total to nearly 200 acres.
One of the key components of the new site would be the inclusion of a stadium that will be able to seat up to 10,000 people. It lends to the belief that, like so many other franchises in the league, training camps will eventually move to the team headquarters. The benefits are that players would be in familiar surroundings for camp – able to spend their nights in their own beds rather than in college housing in Mankato – not to mention being able to corral fans every day of camp and reap the benefits of the money they are to leave behind in the purchase of food, beverage and team apparel, as well as the surrounding businesses with the expectation of profit.
The Met Council, which oversees expansion of the Twin Cities metro area, has yet to give its approval to the project, but there isn’t expected to be any objection because the project is going to provide many specialized construction jobs and will funnel millions of dollars into the local economy that is currently bringing in nothing but property taxes. It has effectively been a ghost-town area, but the Vikings are planning to divide the total property into 10 separate parcels.
The plan is expected to be phased in. The first portion of the development will be the team headquarters, indoor practice facility and as many as four outdoor fields (one with artificial turf) with the 10,000-seat stadium. That is planned for construction starting this spring with the potential of being done as early as some point in 2017 – although maybe not soon enough to move in for the 2017 season. The second and third phases of the project will include the ancillary buildings – offices, housing, a hotel, retail stores and the conference center.
As excitement builds to the opening of the new Vikings stadium on the old Metrodome footprint, the Vikings are finding their own way to build something in their own image with as much land as they need to make it in their vision.