The Vikings’ proposed move east to Eagan received an enthusiastic preliminary endorsement at City Hall on Tuesday night.
The five-member City Council’s unanimous voice vote signals that the Vikings’ departure from Eden Prairie could come sooner rather than later.
Mayor Mike Maguire opened the discussion by saying the vote was solely to determine whether the city would agree to ask the Metropolitan Council for a change in the comprehensive plan to allow mixed use, rather than just commercial, on the 194 acres just south of Interstate 494.
“The meat on the details is premature; the details all get done later in the process,” Maguire said.
The Vikings’ Winter Park headquarters on 12 acres in Eden Prairie was built in 1981, and the team says it can no longer accommodate the Vikings’ needs. The team needs more practice fields, and the administration needs more offices.
Before the vote and brief discussion, Kevin Warren, Vikings chief operating officer, and Steve Poppen, the team’s vice president and chief financial officer, gave brief presentations about how the team wanted to build a “work, live, play” development with a hotel, housing and retail.
In contrast to the contentious process that led to the public bankrolling half of the $1.1 billion cost of the U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, no one spoke against the Vikings’ Eagan plans.
Among the handful who spoke for it were Brent Cory, president of the Eagan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Metropolitan Council Member Steven Chavez and Tom Caneff from the People of Praise Trinity School, which is near the land.
“It’s exciting,” Caneff said, noting that the school is across from the land, close to a planned office building. “It could be a lot of fun. We kind of like the quiet, and we think it could disappear with this. We’re OK with that.”
Trinity, which has 300 students in grades 7-12, will be within a few hundred feet of the new practice fields. Caneff said it will be a major change from the rural feel the school now has, but that he thinks God endorses the new headquarters. “He’s planning this with us, with them. He’s bringing us more life,” Caneff said.
Maguire and each elected official also heaped praise on the plan before the vote.
Council Member Gary Hansen said the proposal offers a “big vision” that will “put Eagan more on the map than it already is. The only question I have for the Vikings is, what took you so long to discover this site?”
Maguire said he expects the Met Council will take action on the request within 60 days. He called the proposal “tremendously well-envisioned” and praised the pairing of office space with retail and multiunit housing.
In the past month, team executives confirmed the Vikings are conducting their due diligence on the land that once served as the headquarters and training facilities for Northwest Airlines and, later, Delta Air Lines. Two mothballed office buildings remain on the property.
The NFL team, whose owners include New Jersey real estate developers Mark and Zygi Wilf, would use about 40 acres of the land for the team’s headquarters and practice facilities, which would include a stadium that could seat up to 10,000 and play host to youth games.
Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president, said there is no firm timeline for completing the due diligence process before executing the purchase agreement, but added, “We are motivated to move efficiently forward.”
If the process moved quickly, the Vikings could break ground as early as next year and move within the next two.
The proposal represents a maximum-build scenario — not necessarily what will actually come to pass.
The team thus far has sought no public subsidies or tax breaks.
The sale price of the land isn’t public, but the land initially went on the market in 2009 for $24.5 million, with the price dropping over time. The Excelsior Group, an Eden Prairie developer, bought the land in June for $10.4 million.