Minnesota Vikings Agree Relevent Sports Partnership as New MLS Franchise Conversations Begin
By Community | June 12, 2014
The Minnesota Vikings announced today that the team has partnered with the University of Minnesota and Relevent Sports to host and promote a Guinness International Champions Cup match on August 2.
Featuring the English Premier League Champions Manchester City against the Greek Champions Olympiacos, the match will be played at TCF Bank Stadium, where the Vikings will play home games for the next two seasons and is part of a competitive European preseason tournament that will feature 13 matches in 12 cities in the United States and Canada.
In its first year in existence in 2013, the Guinness International Champions Cup drew a total of 306,244 fans, including 67,000-plus for the final game between Real Madrid and Chelsea. The round-robin format tournament founded by Relevent Sports is the first major international soccer event that will be affiliated with the Vikings.
“We’re thrilled to bring two world class champions in Manchester City and Olympiacos to TCF Bank Stadium,” said Relevent Sports CEO Charlie Stillitano. “The sport of soccer is expanding rapidly in the U.S. and no more so than in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region.”
As part of today’s announcement, the Vikings also announced a broad strategic alliance with Relevent Sports to continue taking soccer to the next level in the state of Minnesota. Relevent Sports brings more than 20 years of experience in organizing matches between elite global soccer teams in North America.
“We are proud to join the University of Minnesota and Relevent Sports in bringing international soccer to Minnesota,” said Vikings Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren. “As we continue supporting taking soccer to another level in Minnesota, we look forward to a long-term relationship with Relevent Sports that will bring major events to the new Vikings stadium.”
The partnership is the beginning of the Vikings broader effort to bring a Major League Soccer team to Minnesota. Members of the Vikings ownership and management group have visited other MLS cities and venues recently and continue to have dialogue with MLS officials about securing a franchise to play in the new stadium.
“While the Vikings have been focused on the new stadium construction and securing the Super Bowl in 2018, behind the scenes we have been very active with our MLS plans,” said Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley. “We believe this is an outstanding market for MLS, and the new stadium, with its phenomenal indoor-outdoor fan experience, is a great fit for soccer. We look forward to working with local grassroots soccer leaders, organizations and fans to move this effort forward, but in the short-term we want to ensure a successful match on August 2.”
Slated to open in 2016, the new Vikings stadium was designed with the specifications of a professional soccer field and a great game day experience in mind. The 60% transparent roof and the five pivoting glass doors, plus seats on top of the action and exciting fan gathering spaces inside and outside of the stadium, will provide great energy for soccer fans and the MLS. The Vikings are working diligently with stadium architects and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to design a “house reduction mechanism” that will bring the stadium capacity for MLS games to 20,000-25,000 seats, a setting more conducive to soccer.
Included in the partnership for the Vikings to play at the University of Minnesota during the 2014-2015 NFL seasons, the organization invested $6.6 million in improvements to the stadium. The Guinness International Champions Cup will be the first event in which those improvements are on full display to the public, including the additional 1,700+ lower level end zone bleacher seats.