The Minnesota Vikings want to show off their new digs in Eagan and Minneapolis by hosting the NFL draft in 2022 or 2023.
Vikings executive vice president Lester Bagley said Tuesday the team put in an application to the New York-based league 13 months ago to play host to the event which would showcase the team’s new home in Eagan and U.S. Bank Stadium. The process continues, Bagley said, noting the event is still five years away.
Until 2015, the draft was had been held in New York City since 1965. Chicago played host to the event in 2015 and 2016. This year, the three-day draft was in Philadelphia, with outdoor and indoor venues and some 250,000 celebratory, enthusiastic fans to fill them.
When Bagley first mentioned pitching the draft to the NFL a year ago, the team wasn’t yet in the ground on a new practice facility. Last summer league Commissioner Roger Goodell came to town for the Eagan groundbreaking. Now that facility is rising fast and is visible from Highway 494 in Eagan on the site of the former Northwest Airlines headquarters.
The new digs will replace the aged Winter Park in Eden Prairie. The Eagan home will come with a 10,000-seat stadium as well as extensive state-of-the-art capabilities to broadcast and accommodate media. That space is expected to be ready in March 2018, right after the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in February.
The new headquarters is envisioned as part of a mixed-use project with a hotel, retail, restaurants and housing that will be built in coming years.
Coupled with the stadium in downtown Minneapolis, the Vikings would be able to host a multi-venue event at two relatively new facilities.
Now that the league has shown a willingness to move the draft around the country, there’s competition not unlike that for Super Bowls. Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans; Boston, Dallas and Green Bay have all expressed interest, as has Atlanta, which is set to open a new stadium, and Canton, Ohio, home to the NFL Hall of Fame. It’s unclear how many have submitted solid applications.
The Twin Cities has successfully put on major events in recent years and has more biggies on the docket. The Ryder Cup was played last fall. The X Games will be here this summer. The Super Bowl is coming in February, and the NCAA Final Four will follow in 2019.