On wish list for Vikings stadium: Final Four, college football title game

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2012 - 11:21 PM

Panel is exploring whether the Vikings' future home is suitable for a college football playoff game or a Final Four basketball tourney.

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A conceptual drawing of a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis on a game day.

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The $975 million future home of the Minnesota Vikings may someday host Super Bowls, Final Fours, and professional soccer tournaments.

On Friday, the newly created public body working with the team to build the downtown Minneapolis stadium briefly entertained another possibility -- playing host to a national championship college football game.

"I don't think there is anything that is off the table at this point," Steve Maki, director of facilities and engineering for the Metrodome, said after members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority met for only the second time since being appointed last month.

Maki told authority members that he recently contacted Bowl Championship Series (BCS) administrators, who help determine matchups for post-season college football games, and asked them to review a general outline for the Vikings stadium project.

Key elements of that outline, created in 2008 and 2009 by HKS Architects of Dallas and Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis , were used in shaping the stadium financing legislation approved this spring.

Maki said the authority wants to know whether that plan, nearly four years old, is adequate for hosting a BCS playoff game or an NCAA Final Four men's basketball tournament, or whether it needs to be tweaked.

He said officials from both organizations plan to respond by the end of July -- in advance of the authority's hiring of an architectural firm to begin detailed work on designing the new stadium.

"All we're trying to do is find out if the program we have out there appears to meet their needs and if the planned stadium could meet the BCS needs," he said. "We're trying to make sure we haven't eliminated any options."

The BCS was started in 1998, but will be eliminated by the 2014 season in favor of a four-team playoff among the top college football teams in the country.

Under a recently-approved plan, the national semifinal games would rotate among the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.; the Orange Bowl in Miami; the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.; and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Two other sites also would be included, with games played on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

The title game would be put up for bid.

Ted Mondale, the authority's executive director, said the new stadium, which will be built on the Metrodome site, wouldn't be in the running for a BCS or Final Four event until 2017 at the earliest. The Vikings hope to open the stadium by the 2016 NFL season.

"The goal is to ensure the stadium is adequate not only for Vikings games and current existing events, but potential future events that bring people and activity to the state," said Jeff Anderson, director of corporate communications for the Vikings.

"We're just making sure that if we're going to build this facility we'll build it in a way that will work for everybody."

Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425

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