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Vikings release updated renderings of soccer-specific configuration for MLS

NewVikingsStadiumSoccerRetrofit (MinnesotaVikings)

By DAN KARELL

If the Minnesota Vikings are successful in their bid to land an MLS expansion franchise, we could see their team playing in a stadium similar to the Vancouver Whitecaps and the new Atlanta MLS franchise.

On Tuesday afternoon the Vikings updated photos of how the new Vikings stadium would look if configured for an MLS match. One photo from a corner of the field shows the lower bowl filled with fans and the second and third decks covered with curtains containing numerous advertisements. The capacity of the soccer-specific design would be around 20,000 and as the photo states, would be expanded upwards to the standard capacity of 65,000.

“It’s different from Seattle,” Vikings vice president Lester Bagley told the Star Tribune. “It’s a curtaining system that comes down and blocks the upper bowl. That, right there, is 20,000 seats,” Bagley said. “And the area underneath the scoreboard is, ideally, the supporters’ section. The second tier is tarped over. If you take that off, it can go to 28,000 seats. Then we can also go to 34,000 seats — or 65,000 full.”

The Vikings recently presented these renderings (see them here) with other materials in a presentation to MLS executives at MLS headquarters in Manhattan, N.Y. The Vikings are competing with another ownership group headed by Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire and other ownership groups from Sacramento and Las Vegas for the two coveted final spots in MLS’ attempt to expand to 24 teams by 2020.

The new stadium is currently under construction and is projected to be ready in time for the 2016 National Football League season. The stadium will have a roof with glass panels, and removable windows for fans to feel the elements during the summer, but there will likely be an artificial turf surface.

“It’s indoor-outdoor,” Bagley said. “It’s a stadium for all seasons. It accommodates the weather from March to November. It accommodates growth, if we somehow, in this market, hit it like they did in Seattle, we have a building that will grow with the sport. But it has to be a soccer-specific stadium. And this is different than Gillette Stadium.

“God bless the Patriots, and their team, the Revolution. They’re playing in the MLS Cup. But that’s a football stadium. This is a soccer-specific stadium, designed from day one, funded for soccer and for MLS. So that’s our message to MLS.” 

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What do you think of these stadium renderings? Like the idea of curtaining off the upper decks? Do you think the Vikings could land an expansion team?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Hope the Vikings get the MLS franchise, so NASL can keep Minnesota United. (And if you think Loons fans will switch teams, you are in for a surprise.)

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  2. Geez, I can’t believe all the carping about this. First, whether it is soccer specific or not, who cares? It’s soccer friendly, obviously. I am a San Diego native and for decades the football team and the baseball team shared the same multi-purpose stadium. If you can design a stadium that works for both football and baseball, soccer and football sharing a stadium is no problem. It would certainly be better with natural grass, but hey, we’re talking Minnesota here. I mean, get real. I’m just glad they are planning a stadium that can be easily used for soccer and which is not too small. I have been saying for the last couple of years that MLS stadiums should be built to allow for expansion. I have been following soccer for decades and MLS since its start and I think it is poised to really grow in the next decade. Having stadiums of only 20,000 seats is very short sighted. I am glad to see a proposal like this.

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    • You’re right about the number of seats. And you’re right that the only pragmatic solution sometimes is to share a stadium. But, about the turf, an inferior product is just that. An owner who loved his soccer more than his money would install grass, or at least the Desso Grassmaster. So, do we love soccer or money more?

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      • For every person in the world (not just MLS owners), the answer to that question is money. You included.

  3. Let’s me ask this to the owner of Vancouver, Atlanta, NE, Portland, and fans of MLS, what if sounders would get their own 55,000 seat soccer stadium in 5 to 10 years with grass, then what would MLS tell the owner of Vancouver, Atlanta, NE, Portland and Minnesota if they join MLS.
    What I mean is that everybody looks up to sounders, they love their fans, their stadium nfl idea, artificial turf but there’s only one Seattle and to find another Seattle for MLS it might take years and by then sounders might have their own stadium.
    We can not fool ourselves and think teams with nfl stadiums will be like sounders and like I said before, what if sounders think of making their stadium in 5 to 10 years, then what would happen to those teams still sharing and only averaging 25,000 fans in a nfl stadium.
    Don’t get me wrong, I understand Portland can never get grass due to their stadium underground river issue but teams like Vancouver, NE, Minnesota and Atlanta would be confused and lost if sounders would get their stadium one day.
    Another important FACT, sounders is the only team within the next 5 to 10 years that would be able to average 50,000 a game and that why they play in a nfl stadium with artificial turf, but sure they do deserves their own stadium but like they say, there’s no land and they love their stadium.
    So does garber think, those teams like NE, Atlanta, Minnesota, Vancouver are the next sounders…….. And they qualify to play in nfl stadiums.
    I actually see MLS teams averaging 25,000 to 30,000 in ten years, but I might be wrong .
    So at the end of the day, sounders has the key to taking MLS to the next level, until they get their stadium,which would be 50,000 seats, all MLS team owners will be watering their mouth to have something like sounders.
    MLS teams follow sounders and if sounders keep making right moves, then the whole league will follow, but as long as they stay in Seahawks stadium, teams like Vancouver or revolution won’t move.

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    • Other than the turf situation, there’s no reason for the Sounders to play in a separate stadium. They fill CenturyLink with 40k-60k during the season. A second stadium would be redundant.

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    • They other teams in shared stadiums can only hope to be as successful as the Sounders, if they are located downtown with easy public transportation. Otherwise you end up with a Gillette situation. Is this MN proposal near the city center?

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  4. I think sharing with an NFL team and playing in a vast mostly empty football stadium are lame but more important – is this a good soccer market? Does the current minor league team have a lot of support? Seems like other markets like Sacramento, San Antonio etc. might be better, even if they are smaller markets.

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    • The current team averaged around 6k for the season. Not as many as the very best NASL and USL Pro markets, but not super far off and it continues an upward trend over the last several years. Plus they play way the hell away from either downtown–it’s a haul to get up to the stadium unless you live in the northern suburbs.

      Things really started picking up when the current ownership group took over a couple years ago. They’ve done some high-quality work in terms of advertising, interacting with the fans, and improving game-day atmosphere.

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  5. By the literal definition of the word ‘specific’, this is not a soccer-specific stadium. MN United ownership group or nothing for me.

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  6. Can we please stop using the term “soccer specific”, what does it even mean in this context? This is describing what the stadium would look like in it’s soccer configuration. When the Vikings play there is it the “football specific” configuration. Try this one “Soccer Stadium”, hey doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?

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    • Really? Of all the characteristics of Vikings – exploration, ship building, rad helmets, invasion and settlement of Britain, settlement of Iceland, etc. – all you think of is slavery?

      Slavery sucks, but many civilizations were involved in the slave trade at some point in history. You’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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    • Exactly right. It’s no more a SSS than CenturyLink, BC Place, or Gillette Stadium — which is to say it’s not a SSS at all. Just marketing speak.

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      • Why is the CLink NOT soccer specific ( other than turf ) ?

        CLINK was built for soccer ( and football )…as would this place be

        We absolutely CAN’T have a city share a stadium ?

      • Is English not your native language? No worries either way, but the words “soccer specific” mean “specifically built for soccer.” Since CenturyLink is used for American football and soccer, it is, by its very nature, not a soccer-specific stadium.

        I’m not sure who or what you’re responding to in your last sentence.

      • The pictures on the “Vikings” website show advertisements for both football and soccer. This is NOT soccer specific. However a dual purpose concept is not a bad thing when a soccer game is being played you need to feel like you are at a soccer stadium, not some kind of Frankenstein of a building where playing a soccer game there was an afterthought. As for the turf it won’t ever be the same as natural grass but it sure is getting better.

      • I agree. Not a bad thing. The original comment was about the Vikings guy saying, “This is a soccer-specific stadium,” but it’s not.

        And turf sucks. Yes, it’s better than the AstroTurf of the 70s, but it still sucks.

  7. There are several real arguments that make a shared stadium a good idea, particularly in an area that had three shared tenants (Vikings, Twins and Gophers) split to three brand new stadiums in just a few years. I can’t comment on the curtain idea, because I’ve never experienced it on this scale, but I’m skeptical. Most importantly, you know what they say about people in glass houses… that last sentence gives some great clues as to the kind of people involved.

    I also prefer MLS’s version of promotion. Well run lower division clubs with existing fan bases are a better bet.

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    • Talking about grow lights and grass gave me a brilliant idea. The Rapids and the Sounders could supplement their income by growing grass, as in pot, on their stadium grounds. (I know Seattle has artificial turf, but somewhere they could find room, maybe a plot outside the stadium() Now there’s a money maker. And here’s a slogan–Pot, it’s all the grass you need.

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      • Not bad at all. You could probably fund the whole project with the increased revenue from stadium nachos. I like your thinking.

      • Turf doesn’t really bother me too much…
        But why slowleftarm ?

        So instead of saying turf was something that MLS had to do for a while, probably for my lifetime in my city, Seattle,

        instead it is turf is the direction that the league is heading ?

      • If the choice is turf and a team or no turf and no team, I think having a team is better. Sure, grass is better but not always practicable.

    • Agreed.. Already have 3 turf teams in the pnw and NE who will be replaced by Atlanta. I wouldn’t go as far to say turf-no team, but when other SSS options are available it’s hard to allow that.

      That said a dome in MN might be a good idea.

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      • “That said a dome in MN might be a good idea.”

        Wow, I didnt even think of this! That makes scheduling soooo much easier instead of a SSS that would be covered in snow.

    • Transformers, NFL stadiums in disguise…

      It’s hard to judge the actual execution based on an image. It looks better than an empty NFL stadium (NE).

      I wish Garber stuck to his guns about SSS. He went from “only” to now bending over backwards and screaming “thank you sir may I have another” to NFL owners. If we can command a $100M buy in. We can command stadiums and natural grass.

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    • MY EYES!!!

      All they need to do is add some flashing disco balls spinning from the roof and the horror will be complete.

      And back in the day, people thought that dystopian Blade Runner future was pure science fiction. But ut’s bearing down on us, folks. And it wants an MLS franchise.

      Minnesota already has a great team and fan base. Build from there, and tell this NFL add-value mogul to stuff it.

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