Zygi Wilf Says Major League Soccer to Minnesota if Vikings Get New Proposed Arden Hills Stadium
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf states he’d like to bring Major League Soccer to Minnesota if a new stadium is built.
Zygi Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings NFL team, held a press conference on Tuesday announcing they had reached an agreement with Ramsey County and the city of Arden Hills for a new retractable roof stadium. The proposed stadium would be built on the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant along I-35W north of I-694.
The cost of the stadium with the retractable roof is said to be about $1 billion. A study by the State’s Transportation Department said that an additional $240 million would be needed to improve roads in the area for the stadium.
The new stadium would be a 1.6 million-square-foot facility and would have 21,000 parking spaces which Wilf stated is important to bring the NFL game day experience, complete with tailgating, back to Minnesota.
Wilf, who was born in Germany in 1950, made another announcement that passed by most media without mention. He stated that he would like to bring Major League Soccer to Minnesota if he was able to work out the details of the stadium deal.
“We are very excited for the State of Minnesota for our fans and for all the different events we can bring here,” said Zygi Wilf in his opening statements of the almost hour-long press conference. “Soccer, hopefully the Super Bowl, in which we are in it of course, Final Four and all the great community events that have taken place in the Metrodome over the last 30 years.”
Mark Wilf, Zygi’s brother, continued with the talk of soccer coming to the stadium, this time mentioning MLS.
“We feel the Arden Hills location is ideal for our team, for the community, for the State of Minnesota and for all the public. The stadium will be just ten miles from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The proximity to downtown, the retractable roof, will make the stadium a major attraction in the upper Midwest to bring Major League Soccer, to bring Final Four college football bowl games and of course the Super Bowl,” said Mark Wilf.
When the media was allowed to ask questions, Zygi Wilf used the chance to get more specific about his thoughts of MLS in the newly proposed stadium that would share the venue with the Vikings.
“We do plan on providing facilities that provide entertainment for our fans as part of the Vikings venue,” said Zygi Wilf. “The most important thing was to provide a world-class full-day football experience.”
“Also, with the event of a full retractable stadium our goal is to bring Major League Soccer back to Minnesota. The location of here (Arden Hills) being close to Blaine and their facilities for soccer and for youth soccer I think could make this stadium an important part of our youth soccer programs in addition to what’s up in Blaine. We are very excited for what this stadium could bring to our fans and the development will take place after we see what our needs will be.”
Blaine, Minnesota is the home of the National Sports Center Stadium (NSC), an 8,200-seat soccer venue where the Minnesota Thunder spent most of their years playing and is now the home of the NASL Minnesota Stars. The NSC also boast 52 soccer fields and one of the world’s largest youth soccer tournaments drawing over 900 teams from across the globe annually.
This is not the first time Wilf has talked MLS if a new stadium was built. I covered that topic in December of 2009 when the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission proposed a new stadium to replace the Metrodome, which is now nearly 30 years old.
At the time I passed Wilf’s previous comments off as merely hype to get more support behind a stadium for the Vikings. But what I’ve found out since then is Wilf did actually have some initial conversations of some sort with Major League Soccer. That is not to say this is not another attempt to garner support for his new proposed stadium.
While this could be exciting news for Minnesotans, the stadium is still a long way from being done and Major League Soccer to Minnesota would be even a longer shot. Beside Wilf needing to put up the $40 million plus to field an MLS team, the league would have many questions to ask, including if Minnesota would truly be a good place to move or start a new team.
After the start of the 2012 season, MLS will be at 19 teams with the addition of the Montreal Impact. Commissioner Don Garber has stated he does not foresee additional growth in the league for some time after it hits its 20th team. Currently a second team in New York in addition to the Red Bulls and the South East United States seem to be targets for that last expansion team slot.
Still, it’s encouraging to hear the possibility of Minnesota having the highest level of soccer played in the US after having a 22-year history of D2 pro soccer in the area with the Thunder and the Stars. In addition, Minnesota has a history of top level soccer with the old NASL in the Minnesota Kicks, who played from 1976 to 1981, and the Strikers indoor team that played from 1984-1988.