EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have an ambitious goal for development of the suburban property where they want to build their new headquarters, including retail, housing and a small stadium for youth football games.
Vikings executives held a briefing for reporters Friday in Eden Prairie at Winter Park, the cramped current facility the organization moved into in 1981. The Vikings announced Aug. 21 they've signed a purchase agreement for a 185-acre plot in Eagan, another southern Twin Cities suburb of 60,000-plus people.
The due diligence process has begun in earnest, increasing the probability the team will move operations about 15 miles east to be closer to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. The team will also be centrally located between the two downtowns and the Vikings will have more space.
Winter Park sits on a 15-acre site partially surrounded by wetlands that makes some of the land unusable. The Vikings have employees in three buildings, at Winter Park, in an office tower across the street and in Minneapolis next to the site of their new stadium.
The Vikings have sent their application to the city of Eagan to rezone the land for multiple uses, which would include a hotel, conference center, commercial office space and more. The development would take place in phases, with the team offices and practice fields the top priority. The blueprint includes an indoor facility with a ceiling high enough to allow punting, which Winter Park does not have, plus three outdoor grass fields.
This site adjacent to Interstate 494 was once the home of Northwest Airlines, which merged with Atlanta-based Delta nearly seven years ago. Two buildings of roughly 270,000 square feet each have sat empty for some time.
Under the blueprint the Vikings have submitted for city consideration, those buildings would have to be razed, but chief financial officer Steve Poppen said none of the plans for development have been finalized. Poppen declined to provide a cost estimate of the project. Vikings vice president of stadium development and public affairs Lester Bagley said requests for tax relief or other related assistance will likely be made.
"We expect to have those conversations," Bagley said.
The developer the Vikings have entered the purchase agreement with bought the land this summer for $10.4 million.
More and more NFL teams have not only built state-of-the-art practice facilities and office space in recent years but held summer training camps on site, too. The Vikings recently signed a three-year contract extension with Minnesota State University to conduct training camp at their long-time home in Mankato through at least 2018.
"We love Mankato. It's been a great training camp. We'll sort that out in due time," Bagley said of a possible move to Eagen.