The good news for Minnesotans is that the Vikings will be staying put for the long haul. The bad news for Minnesotans is that, with the team soon to be playing home games at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the Vikings have become a candidate to play one home game per year in London.
Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Vikings are the “top candidate” to host games in Wembley Stadium over the next four seasons.
“We’ve expressed an interest, and there’s a process the league is following,” team V.P. of public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley said. “We’ll see how it shakes out.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Murphy that the league “hope[s] to announce something soon,” but wouldn’t comment on any specific teams.
The Vikings reportedly will spend up to two years playing at TCF Bank Stadium, as the construction of their new home makes it impossible to continue to use the Metrodome.
It’s unclear how many times the Vikings would go to London before the new venue opens. The league has discussed sending the same team multiple teams in order to help that team build a fan base in London. If, however, the NFL wants to move a team to London (as Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently confirmed), it makes sense for a team that potentially would move to be the team to build the fan base.
Last week, the Rams scuttled plans to host one game per year for three years in London. They’ll instead only play there later this year, against the Patriots.
For Vikings fans who went to bat aggressively for the team to get its long-coveted new stadium, the fact that one or two home games could be lost in the coming seasons may not be the kind of reward they were expecting.