The big, headline out of Zygi Wilf's proposal for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium was, undoubtedly, the $1 billion price tag for the retractable-roof facility. Combined with the $240 million worth of estimated infrastructure upgrades that the surround area the Twin Cities suburb -- plus whatever inevitable cost overruns -- we're talking about one of the most expensive sports facilities ever built in the United States. But there was a notable subhead to the story that IMSoccer News pointed out: Wilf apparently likes the idea of having a MLS team as one of the stadium's tenants.
"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 whats 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."
What makes this at least somewhat interesting is Minnesota's relatively rich soccer history. The NSC Minnesota Stars currently play in the second division NASL and there's been pro soccer played in the area pretty regularly ever since the original NASL's Minnesota Kicks moved to town in 1976.
While support for those teams has, at times, been relatively strong, all of them have struggled financially. Whether or not MLS team could really succeed in Minnesota is very much an open question.
Wilf, a German immigrant, seems to have a genuine interest in soccer, which is a nice start. He also seems to have relatively deep pockets, another plus as far as MLS is concerned.
The fact that the proposed stadium would have a retractable roof is certainly another positive, as it would likely allow for grass instead of turf. But the idea of a team playing in a huge facility like this, in what is very much a suburb, are not things that bode well. The Seattle Sounders are the only MLS team to have really been able to maximize playing in a NFL stadium, and Qwest benefits greatly from being located in a downtown area.
It also seems unlikely that MLS would consider expanding to Minnesota anytime in the near future, as a second New York team still seems like the front-runner for team No. 20, the Southeast is still without a team and even Southwest cities like Las Vegas seem to be better fits.