The Minnesota Vikings are expressing concerns about talks that could allow Minnesota United FC to use U.S. Bank Stadium for select matches.
The United is slated to join the MLS next year and play at TCF Bank Stadium, where it will host its home games until a new stadium opens in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. However, the team has looked to utilize U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis for exhibition matches, and possibly more, and is discussing the possibility with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), the stadium’s owner.
The arrival of the United to MLS has a backstory that involves the Vikings. In Minnesota’s push for an MLS franchise, two groups emerged: Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf pushed one bid, while Bill McGuire, former UnitedHealth executive and owner of the NASL’s Minnesota United FC, led a separate group that included members of the Pohland family, Wendy Carlson Nelson, and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.
Though the Wilfs proposed the possibility of having an MLS franchise share U.S. Bank Stadium with the Vikings, McGuire’s group came out with the winning bid. Since the Vikings are not involved in the operations of the United, they are contending that MLS games on U.S. Bank Stadium’s turf should only be played with their consent.
However, MSFA say that its talks with the United are within the bounds of the law relating to the use of U.S. Bank Stadium. More from the Star Tribune:
“First, it’s clear Minnesota United can’t play at U.S. Bank Stadium without our consent,” Vikings executive vice president Lester Bagley said. “We invested $609 million to make this building soccer ready and make it a great fan experience.”
The Vikings say the 2012 legislation that got the stadium built gave them five-year exclusive rights to bring an MLS team into the building.
MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said the Vikings have a right to “establish” an MLS team at U.S. Bank, but the team has no say in whether the Minnesota United play an “exhibition” game at the stadium.
A Minnesota United spokesman, however, indicated the talks went well beyond a single exhibition game and included the possibility of home games at the stadium.
The Star Tribune reports that the Vikings have brought up the possibility of litigation in the dispute with MSFA, but says that it is ultimately unclear how the strife will be settled.