By DAN KARELL
With Major League Soccer set to announce its latest expansion team in Atlanta Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings are maneuvering to secure one of the two remaining expansion slots for Minneapolis.
Just as Atlanta’s future MLS team will be operated by an owner from the National Football League, the Vikings are leading the charge to acquire an MLS expansion franchise to play at their new 65,000-seat stadium, expected to be completed in 2016.
Speaking at a local business luncheon, Vikings vice president of public affairs, Lester Bagley, said that the team was “stepping up” it’s efforts to bring an MLS team to the city, and that they weren’t alone in their efforts.
“We’ve been stepping up our conversations with the MLS,” Bagley told the Pioneer Press. “There are definitely other interests in the market,” he added.
Those other interests reportedly include Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad and NASL club Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire. The Vikings are owned by Zygi Wilf.
Bagley also mentioned to the Pioneer Press that the new Vikings stadium has a “house reduction mechanism” that would bring capacity down to 20,000-30,000 to give the feel of a more intimate setting. This process is similar to what the Vancouver Whitecaps do at BC Place.
The field at the new Vikings Stadium allows for an MLS pitch of up to 121 x 72 yards. Most MLS pitches are anywhere between 110-120 x 75 yards.
MLS commissioner Don Garber has previously stated that MLS plants to expand to 24 teams by 2020. Currently at 19 teams, the league will expand to 21 in 2015 with the inclusion of New York City FC and Orlando City SC.
Atlanta is expected to be the 22nd franchise, and Miami could be close behind if David Backham’s group can secure funding for a soccer-specific stadium and build it in the downtown area. If Miami does receive an expansion team, it would leave just one spot up for grabs with a number of cities—including Minneapolis, San Antonio, and Sacramento—all vying for entry into the U.S. and Canada’s top tier of soccer.
What do you think of this report? Do you see Minneapolis receiving a bid? Disappointed to hear that they might play in an NFL stadium? Do you think an MLS team can flourish in Minnesota?
Share your thoughts below.