NFL has a record of success on campus

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2012 - 10:12 AM

As a Dome stadium site gathers momentum, the Vikings and the U explore how to exist together.

hide

In 2010, the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota came together to put on an NFL game at TCF Bank Stadium on short notice.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The NFL team had decided it was time for a new stadium to replace its outmoded downtown domed arena, and agreed to a public-private deal to build on the dome's footprint. In the meantime, it proposed to play at the stadium of the large university nearby. The school agreed, and a deal was struck.

A future scenario for the Vikings and the University of Minnesota? Maybe. But it actually happened to the Seattle Seahawks and the University of Washington in 1999, when the Pac-10 school let the Seahawks move to Husky Stadium for two seasons in a deal that both sides said worked out well.

With the Metrodome site picking up momentum as the potential location for their next home, Vikings officials are figuring out how and where the team could play during the two to three years it will take to build a new stadium.

One idea is to build next door to the Dome, which would allow the Vikings to play there until the new stadium was ready. The team says Star Tribune property adjoining the Dome is too narrow to build on, but it hasn't ruled out an area southeast of the Dome that contains an office building and Xcel Energy substation.

For now, team officials assume they would build where the Dome stands. Which is why they and U officials are talking about how to turn cozy, collegiate TCF Bank Stadium into an NFL arena.

The Vikings estimate that moving to the U for three seasons will cost $48 million. The biggest problem is that TCF has 14,000 fewer seats than the Dome, which would squeeze out thousands of season-ticket holders. The university stadium would need to be winterized for the frigid months when the Gophers don't play but the Vikings do.

Even worse, the university prohibits beer sales there.

Asked whether the NFL was reluctant to have the team play at TCF, Vikings vice president of stadium development Lester Bagley said: "It's not ideal for anyone, including the NFL, fans, the Vikings, visiting teams, the university."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday that reports that the league wasn't eager to have the Vikings play at the U didn't come from his office, but he declined to comment further. Three-fourths of NFL team owners would have to approve the temporary move.

Seating could be issue

Challenges aside, the U and the team believe they can reach an agreement. They worked together on short notice in December 2010 to move the Vikings to campus for a game against the Chicago Bears after a blizzard ripped open the Dome's fiberglass roof.

Since 1995, five NFL teams have played a season or two at college stadiums while their home facilities were being built or remodeled.

TCF Bank's seating capacity could be a sticking point. The college stadiums where Seattle and Chicago played seated about as many or more than their own stadiums.

Mark Rotenberg, the University of Minnesota's top lawyer and lead negotiator in talks with the Vikings, said the U is willing to consider temporary seating but opposes permanent seating expansion. "We love the stadium, and we want to keep it the same size," he said.

Rotenberg said the U would probably install the heating coils the Vikings want below the playing field, and he said it likely would accommodate the team's desire to sell alcohol during games, an opinion echoed Friday by U President Eric Kaler.

Bagley cautioned that the stadium site question isn't settled and reiterated that the team's choice is Arden Hills. But if financing and political pressures lead to the Dome site, he said, the Vikings need to be ready to take up temporary quarters at TCF. "We knew it was always a possibility we would have to do this again for more than one game," he said.

Perhaps the best parallel to what could become the Vikings' future is the Seahawks' past. The team played the 2000 and 2001 seasons at Husky Stadium while a $430 million stadium was going up where the Kingdome stood 4 miles away in downtown Seattle.

The Seahawks and da Bears

Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen bought the Seahawks in the late 1990s with the expectation of getting a new stadium. After Washington voters narrowly approved public funding, the team began wooing the University of Washington as a temporary home. The Seahawks immediately pledged to keep Husky Stadium dry, avoid playing on the same weekends as UW and meet with university neighbors to discuss traffic concerns.

In May 1999, the Seahawks agreed to a deal that included an $800,000 transportation plan with shuttles and trash cleanup, no weekday and night games, and a community planner for local issues.

The Seahawks paid the university $6.1 million for 20 games over two seasons. The team covered game-day expenses and controlled campus parking spaces, while the school took care of the field. The team also spent $1.1 million to cover the university's field and practice area with FieldTurf.

By then, UW officials were grinning ear to ear. "We genuinely enjoy these people," then-Athletic Director Barbara Hedges told a Seattle columnist.

For the 2002 season, the Bears agreed to pay the University of Illinois 10 percent of gross ticket revenues as rent, and split the concessions 50-50. Legislators at first refused to allow beer to be sold during Bears games, but then approved a subsequent bill allowing beer on Cook County golf courses as well as in the Champaign stadium.

Neither the Seahawks nor the Bears said how much revenue they lost in the seasons they spent away from home.

Two seasons - or three?

The Vikings say that three seasons at TCF will cost the team $36.9 million in operating losses and $11 million to refurbish the U stadium to NFL standards. The Vikings paid $1.7 million to the U to play there against the Bears in December 2010.

Bagley said that stadium construction might require only two seasons, but that the team wants to plan for the worse-case scenario. If a deal is reached soon, he said, preliminary structural work could begin this fall at the Dome to allow the Vikings to continue to play there.

How long it takes "depends on when the bill is passed and how quickly we could get an architectural team going," said Ted Mondale, chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.

Mondale said they're seeing whether a stadium might work southeast of the Dome on property occupied by the 511 Building, a former Control Data center that houses telecommunications firms, and Xcel's Elliot Park substation.

Bagley said the Vikings were told that the substation can't be relocated and that the 511 Building carried long-term leases. "That would be the ideal situation, but we've not yet seen a viable plan that would accomplish that," he said.

Staff librarian Sandy Date contributed to this report. Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455

  • related content

  • Back to school

    Saturday January 28, 2012

    Since 1995, five NFL teams have played a season or two at college stadiums while their facilities were being built or remodeled:

  • Another stadium site emerges right next door

    Friday January 27, 2012

    Vikings and stadium officials are eyeing property southeast of the Metrodome. Is it doable? Hard to say.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close