More than just a place for football

New Vikings home has plans for kayaking, sculptures, rugby and beyond

Football will not be the only activity at the new Minnesota Vikings development under construction in Eagan.

Beyond coming to watch the Vikings training camp next summer, residents may visit the Vikings Lake development to kayak or cross-country ski in the future.

Plans for a plaza, trails system and a land bridge were unveiled last week during the Eagan City Council meeting.

Plans also include information about a potential 6,000-10,000 square foot, two-story pavilion in the plaza big enough to accommodate event space, rental facilities and food services.

Titled Skol Pavilion, the facility could rent out cross country skis, kayaks, skates, canoes and paddle boats to use on the nearby lakes and trails.

The pavilion would be adjacent to a .65-mile trail that will surround both the north and south lake on the property.

“We want people to be able to come to this area to live, work and play, and we have to create the amenities for the people in the area to do that,” said Steve Poppen, executive vice president and chief financial officer who spoke presentation during an Eagan Foundation fundraiser at Bald Man Brewing last week.

The pavillion would be privately owned an operated, yet open to the public for events. The trails would be open to all.

It is part of a future phase, but shared with the Eagan City Council last week.

It will be graded and seeded during this year, but is still in the development process.

“It’s architecturally not ready,” said Patrick Mascia, a shareholder at Briggs and Morgan who represented the Vikings during the City Council meeting. “With everything going on, It’s not fully designed or budgeted.”

Construction of the plaza and trails are to start this summer and be completed by April 2018.

Plans include a dock access to the southern lake and a land bridge connecting the eastern portion of the property with the Vikings stadium and Twin Cities Orthopedics building.

The land bridge plans include Viking-related sculptures and hall of fame plaques. It is replacing Northwest Parkway, a road that went in between the two lakes when Northwest Airlines owned the property.

Developers reorientated Vikings Parkway to the south to leave room for a bigger development to the east.

The upper part of the tiered plaza will serve as the primary entrance to the stadium and practice fields.

The center plaza will include a turf football field to serve as a staging ground for events such as exercise classes, kids, games, clinics and game-day activities .

The lower plaza will provide access to the team store and hall of fame located in the Sports Medicine Center. It would also be home to the future pavilion.

The amenities are intended to connect pedestrians to other locations throughout the development.

Poppen said the development will have also about 7.5 miles of bike trails total that connect to other bike paths within the city.
Beyond practice

Training camp isn’t the only reason why people from the Twin Cities will come to northern Eagan.

The stadium could house soccer, lacrosse, football or rugby games, and even small outdoor concerts once its operational, Poppen said.

The stadium can hold 6500 people and it’s able to support NCAA events.

The Vikings have also been in discussions with the Minnesota State High School League to possibly host neutral site playoff games and perhaps a weekly Friday night football game.

Poppen said their new stadium will be beneficially during playoff games because both sides of the stadium have an equal seating.

Section playoff games are often held at high schools where the visitors bleachers have fewer seats than the host side.

When fans come to watch training camp or events, there will be shared parking after normal business hours within the medical facility and on-street parking along Vikings Parkway.

Mascia said the Vikings are working with the city on a travel demand plan to proving traffic management for parking next spring.

According to Poppen, the organization plans to move into the new facility following the 2018 NFL Combine, which is usually held late February, early March.

The organization is excited for several reasons.

One is because players have access to the Twin Cities Orthopedics next door, which will help with the health of their players, Poppen said.

“We literally do MRIs all the time,” Poppen said. “Right now if a player needs an MRI they get in a company excursion van (from the current headquarters in Eden Prairie), and sit in traffic on 494 and drive to Edina.”

The new facility will also have four outdoor fields, two of which will be heated.

If the team is preparing for an outdoor game late in the year, they can prepare appropriately.

“If you going to play the Packers in December, you can go outside and play on a heated field right there,” Poppen said.

Punters and kickers will also be able to kick indoors with the team. Currently, Poppen said, they practice at US Bank Stadium because the ceiling is too low at their current facility in Winter Park.

Vikings Headquarters, along with its indoor practice facility and stadium, are currently under construction, as are the Twin City Orthopedics medical office building and the Sports Medicine Center.

The Vikings are only going to use 40 acres of the 200-acre property.

Poppen said the organization is focusing on the commercial office piece and studying a conference center/hotel in the eastern portion of the property.

The property will also include multifamily housing.

“That’s what the (Vikings owners) Wilfs do throughout the world,” Poppen said. “That’s what they do and they do it well.”

Retail/commercial is planned for the southeastern and northeastern portion of the development.