Buried in the state's preliminary agreement to use public subsidies to build the Minnesota Vikings a new stadium is this:
Once the team gets a new stadium, the Vikings want permission to play at least one home game a year “off site.”
Over a 10-year period, the team wants the ability to play up to four regular season home games and two exhibition home games off site.
National Football League spokesman Brian McCarthy said the language is all about the league’s ongoing attempt to expand the NFL to Europe and other countries. McCarthy said the provision is meant to boost the league’s “international series”, which in recent years has been scheduling one game annually in London.
The language, said McCarthy, is necessary “in the event the team plays in a game as part of our International Series.” The Vikings, he said, last played in an international game in 1994.
The actual language states: "The Team shall have the ability to play a limited number of League mandated home games off-site or specialty games off-site, but not more than one (1) game per year or more than four (4) regular season games and two (2) preseason games over any ten (10) year period."
Ted Mondale, Gov. Mark Dayton’s chief stadium negotiator, downplayed how often the Vikings would play home games away from the team’s new stadium, whose funding package is expected to be considered by the Legislature in the coming weeks. He said “it could, but [would] not likely” involve a regular season home game.
“It’s language to allow them to play in Europe or China or somewhere for exhibition purposes,” Mondale said. The preliminary stadium agreement calls for the Vikings to sign a 30-year lease at a new facility that would be built at the site of the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis..
In 2011, the Chicago Bears played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a regular season game in London.
The last NFL pre-season game played overseas, said McCarthy, was in Tokyo in 2005.