The Vikings want to bring the NFL draft and all its hype to the Twin Cities.
Lester Bagley, Vikings executive vice president of stadium development and public affairs, said the team has started conversations with the NFL events staff about hosting the three-day spring event, possibly as early as 2018.
“We have a great market here in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, so it is definitely an event we could host well,” Bagley said, only hours after reports surfaced that Philadelphia has emerged as the favorite to host the 2017 NFL draft.
The 2016 draft starts Thursday night at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago for a second year in a row. Before that, New York hosted the draft since 1965.
“We will look into the [bidding] process for 2018 and beyond going forward. Then we’ll roll up our sleeves and see how it goes,” Bagley said.
Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Canton (Ohio), New Orleans; Boston, Dallas and Green Bay are among other cities that have expressed interest in hosting future drafts.
The site Bagley highlighted to host the draft doesn’t exist yet. He said the team’s future headquarters and practice facility in Eagan would be the ideal location for a community-driven event. Pending city approval, construction on the project is expected to begin in June and be completed by April 2018.
If all goes as planned, the facility could be finished just in time to host the 2018 draft. Bagley also said the Vikings’ new billion-dollar stadium could host the event.
“Our new state-of-the-art practice facility will be the best in the NFL and opened in the spring of 2018,” he said. “That location might be a special place to have that event.”
The city of Minneapolis is interested in co-hosting the event with the Vikings and adding to the Twin Cities’ run of landing significant sporting events, said Scott Romane, executive director of Sports Minneapolis. Chaska’s Hazeltine National will play host to the Ryder Cup this fall, and U.S. Bank Stadium will hold the Super Bowl in 2018 and the NCAA Final Four in 2019.
“Minneapolis will be one of the strongest football destinations in the country with the opening of the new U.S. Bank Stadium, and hosting an event like the NFL draft in the future is of great interest to us,” Romane said. “It’s too soon to say when that might be. We’ll be watching and evaluating opportunities closely.”