EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — Lush, green outdoor practice fields frame what’s soon to be a new home to an old franchise.
In the spring of 2018, the Minnesota Vikings will vacate their Winter Park headquarters and venture east to Eagan.
“This is as exciting as they come,” says team owner Zygi Wilf.
Wilf has developed a large number of properties over his career, but none is closer to his heart. The Vikings Lakes complex now taking shape on the former Delta Airlines headquarters just southeast of Interstate 494 and Dodd Road in Eagan will be a mixture of football, shopping, dining and entertainment, all on one campus.
What Wilf envisions is much more than a Vikings training center and team headquarters. He sees it as a place to attract families and fans alike. A destination in which to take in summer training camp or visit the team museum and have lunch in the public cafeteria overlooking the complex.
“I’m hoping people from all over Minnesota and all over the country really come by here and take a look at what we built here,” Wilf said.
About 70 percent of the Vikings’ training facility and headquarters is now complete. Over the next four months, workers will finish the interior work on the team’s indoor practice field, locker room with two fireplaces as well as a state-of-the-art weight training facility.
“Yes, it’s on schedule for March 1. We have a couple of teams within the Vikings working on the move already,” Vikings Executive Vice President Lester Bagley said.
Nestled amid the building’s work is progressing on the 6,500-seat open air football stadium. It will serve as a sort of “Friday Night Lights” field for featured high school football games. Already, plans are in the works to open the stadium next August with a featured high school scrimmage. It will also host a sectional playoff game next November, leading up to the Prep Bowl.
But the larger goal of Vikings Lakes is to be a focal point for the greater community of sports enthusiasts. A place to watch football, soccer and lacrosse as well as a gather point for fans.
“Our goal is not to build a good facility, a good headquarters, but to build something that’s absolutely unique and special, the best in the world,” Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren said.
To do that, the Vikings have partnered with Twin Cities Orthopedics. Construction is now underway on two new medical facilities on site to offer specialized orthopedic care and surgery, as well as sports medicine performance training in an adjacent building.
That building will largely be used by the public for athletic counseling and training. But it will also draw fans to the Vikings museum, hall of fame and team store.
“When you stand here you get the feeling that this is a campus,” Warren said.
A 200-acre wooded campus to help train and mend athletes of all skill levels, from pros to peewees.
In addition to being anchored by the Vikings and Twin Cities Orthopedics, the campus will be developed in several phases.
Eventually, it will feature commercial offices, retail and more than 1,000 units of residential housing.
Team owner Zygi Wilf says the completed development will be realized over five to 10 years.