The Vikings on Tuesday evening showed off renderings of their new stadium outfitted for a Major League Soccer franchise. In advance of that release at an event at their stadium preview center, we got a sneak peek at those renderings.
The Vikings are one of two local groups vying for an expansion franchise, along with a group led by Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire. Both of them presented pitches to MLS officials at a recent meeting in New York, as did groups from Sacramento and Las Vegas.
United is seeking to build a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis if it is awarded the franchise, while the Vikings’ group would house the team in its under-construction stadium.
Here are a couple of the pertinent renderings, along with comments from Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley:
Rendering 1, at top: Here is a look inside the stadium, as it would look on gameday. The Vikings would use curtains to block off most of the seats, bringing capacity down to 20,000.
“It’s different from Seattle. It’s a curtaining system that comes down and blocks the upper bowl. That, right there, is 20,000 seats,” Bagley said. “And the area underneath the scoreboard is, ideally, the supporters’ section. The second tier is tarped over. If you take that off, it can go to 28,000 seats. Then we can also go to 34,000 seats — or 65,000 full.”
Rendering 2, at right (Click on photo for a bigger view): “This is looking in,” Bagley said, “and on the left is the back of the scoreboard. The point is that it would be equal footing. Major League Soccer would have a presence in the building. … This is not going to be a stepchild to the NFL.”
Other highlights from Bagley:
*The major selling points for the Vikings stadium housing MLS, per Bagley, includes the notion that the Vikings stadium is being built specifically with soccer in mind. “It’s indoor-outdoor. It’s a stadium for all seasons. It accommodates the weather from March to November. It accommodates growth, if we somehow, in this market, hit it like they did in Seattle, we have a building that will grow with the sport,” Bagley said. “But it has to be a soccer-specific stadium. And this is different than Gillette Stadium. God bless the Patriots, and their team, the Revolution. They’re playing in the MLS Cup. But that’s a football stadium. This is a soccer-specific stadium, designed from day one, funded for soccer and for MLS. So that’s our message to MLS.” He said the renderings were “very well-received” by MLS officials.
*While there is some discussion that MLS could make a decision as soon as this weekend on expansion, Bagley said the Vikings have been given no timeline. “We’re ready to go. We’ve done our work. We gave them a strong pitch. We’re not concerned about Sacramento or Las Vegas or the other side of town. … There is some urgency with the conversations we’ve been having, so it feels imminent, but that’s all I can tell you.”
*We asked Bagley, pointblank, why the United group and Vikings group couldn’t get together on one pitch. It’s a question we get asked all the time, so it was only fair to ask Bagley. “We’ve had conversations over the years with all three of the parties in the other group,” he said. “At this point, as it evolved, we worked hard to get the stadium deal done. It passed in May of 2012. … We’ve been focused on our game. We reached out to others in the community, and we have relationships in the community, but in terms of the other group, we haven’t really had that much dialogue.”
That, of course, doesn’t quite answer the question of why they can’t get together. But hey, we asked.
*Bagley said regardless of whether the Vikings get an MLS team or not, “We are working right now with Metro Transit to build a pedestrian bridge to go over the (light rail) tracks.”