The Vikings will have their official ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for their new team headquarters, Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, in Eagan. Several dignitaries will be attending the event, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Gov. Mark Dayton and Eagan mayor Mike Maguire.
The team opened Winter Park in 1981. Their new venue is double the size and will include a 6,500-seat stadium for high school football games and other community events, something that wasn’t possible in Eden Prairie. The surrounding Viking Lakes development is likely to include housing, retail, offices and a hotel.
The price tag was dramatically larger, too. Winter Park couldn’t have cost much more than $5 million; the first phase of this project cost $140 million.
For the Wilf family, this has been a personal undertaking that will bring Vikings training camp back to the metro area after 52 years in Mankato and centralize day-to-day team operations after the opening of U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016.
“Couldn’t be more pleased. Twin Cities Orthopedics are a great partner, can’t wait for training camp for our fans to see this incredible facility,” said Mark Wilf, Vikings co-owner and team president. “I know our staff, our coaches, our players feel great in the new home. Eden Prairie was a great home for us, and now Eagan going forward is a great community and we’re excited to be a part of it for a long time to come.”
What remains exciting for the Wilfs and the Vikings is development is far from over on the site.
“The performance center and our main headquarters are complete but we have a new TCO Stadium that’s in the final stages of completion,” Mark Wilf said. “… There’s a lot to look forward to. Viking Lakes development is going on all around it. It’s an exciting time to be a Vikings fan and be a part of the Minnesota Vikings.”
Mark’s brother, co-owner and team chairman Zygi Wilf, said a lot of pieces had to fall in place for the team to open U.S. Bank Stadium and a new team headquarters within 24 months.
“It was always our goal to make sure that we built the stadium, which we did, and it so happened to be that as we were looking for a place for a new facility this … well-located property came up and we fell in love with it, to make sure that this was our home,” Zygi Wilf said.
Was the TCO Center modeled after any other team’s complex?
“We looked at different facilities, but we took the best from everywhere and we brought it here,” Zygi Wilf said. “We had the land available to make it so and blend it in with the other facilities and really make it a true performance center that will provide a lot of benefits to everyone in the community.”
When asked if the team is done building for the time being, Zygi said the business of building a Super Bowl-caliber team never stops.
“We’re still going for our other goal and that is to make sure we get that Lombardi [Trophy],” he said. “Our job hasn’t been finished yet. We’re working hard to get to that point.”
Big roster changes
The Wilfs continue to financially support the team’s pursuit of free agents, including giving new quarterback Kirk Cousins a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed contract — the most guaranteed money in NFL history.
Mark Wilf said the ownership group likes what they’re seeing from their team and they continue to think General Manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer are the right leaders to take the Vikings to a title.
“Before you know it, the season and training camp will be upon us,” he said. “I think from what we’re hearing from Coach Zimmer and Rick Spielman, everyone is working well and creating that team experience that’s going to get us going for next year.”
Mark Wilf said this was just the kind of team they wanted to see after a great season last season, when the Vikings went 13-3 before eventually losing 38-7 to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
“I think we built up our depth and really helped our team out in this past draft [with] some college free agents we picked up and free agents in March,” he said. “There has been a whole plan being put together by Rick, and we have all the confidence we have done a lot to make our team better.”
Treadwell on Cousins
Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell improved in every way during his sophomore season, grabbing 20 receptions for 200 yards after only one catch for 15 yards as a rookie, but the 2016 first-round pick knows his third season will be important for his development.
He said he’s enjoyed working with Cousins.
“Just the way [the ball] comes out of his hand, it’s different,” Treadwell said at minicamp this week. “And he’s actually targeting me, so that’s fun, too.
“It’s always great to have a rapport with your quarterback, and chemistry. I look forward to building on that throughout training camp and through the season.”
And when it comes to the offensive system being put in by new coordinator John DeFilippo, Treadwell said it’s a wide-open playbook where all the runners and receivers see the ball.
“A lot of moving parts, can’t really pinpoint who is going to get the ball every play,” he said. “So that’s good for all of us.”
• Zimmer on working with DeFilippo: “We can have really open conversations and he listens to the things that I say would hurt defenses. It’s been really good. I think he’s done a great job with the offense.”
• Cousins said he’s going to use the summer break to get away from the playbook a little bit. “It’s a balance for me,” he said. “I’ve had to learn this after playing the last few years. Last year in Washington we got to like Week 2 and because of how much I was grinding all camp and even in the summer, I felt like we were in Week 12.”
• Miguel Sano in his first 37 games in 2018: .203 batting average, seven home runs, nine doubles, 27 RBI, 17 runs scored, 66 strikeouts. Sano in his first 37 games in 2017: .299 batting average, 10 home runs, seven doubles, 30 RBI, 27 runs scored, 53 strikeouts.
• Former Gophers point guard Andre Hollins just wrapped up his season with Egis Kormend in Hungary’s top basketball division. Hollins averaged 10.8 points, 3.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds over 42 games. This was Hollins’ third season playing professionally overseas.