The Eagan City Council voted emphatically and unanimously Tuesday night to approve the Minnesota Vikings’ plans to build a new headquarters on 44 acres of land where Northwest Airlines once stood.
Before the 5-0 vote, the council raised some questions about the amount of signage on the new buildings, as well as potential parking congestion, but it embraced the larger concept of the redevelopment of nearly 200 acres for housing, retail, office space, a hotel and public green space.
Mayor Mike Maguire said the relatively minor questions before the vote shouldn’t be construed to mean that anyone is “anything less than across-the-board excited to have you.”
City Council Member Gary Hansen’s comments evoked the enthusiasm of the council and mayor. “To me this is like having Disney World in Eagan,” he said. “I think it’s a visionary plan and obviously it’s going to add substantially to Eagan’s tax base.
With their new $1.1 billion gameday home, U.S. Bank Stadium, ready for the 2016 NFL season, the Vikings are ready to address their outdated corporate headquarters.The team could break ground in Eagan as early as next month. Team vice president Lester Bagley said the target date for moving into the new corporate and team headquarters is March 2018, the month after the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium.
After 35 years, the team’s front office and players are busting out of Winter Park’s seams. The aging facility is named for Max Winter, who led a group of investors in bringing the NFL expansion team to Minnesota in 1961 that became the Vikings.
Now the football team needs more practice space, training areas and better technology, including a comfortable theater for players to watch game film. The new facility will have five outdoor fields and one indoors.
Off the field, the team’s corporate employees are scattered across three sites. The new home would pull them together in a single site.
“We come here not just to take away, but to give back,” Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren told the council before the vote. “We want to do something special.”
He said the headquarters will enhance Eagan’s place on the map, making it an “international destination.”
Only one speaker at the public forum raised concern about how the project will bring congestion to the area. Three others voiced support for the team’s move down Hwy. 494 from Eden Prairie.
The Vikings’ owners Mark and Zygi Wilf acquired the land a year ago.
The new headquarters will be the first phase of a 15-year mixed-use project expected to include housing, retail and office space connected by greenways, bike paths and anchored by a town square. The team envisions a 10,000-seat stadium that could be used for “Skol nights,” Friday night high school games and also summer training camp.