EAGAN, Minn. — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he’s amassed a variety of shovels from various groundbreakings from stadiums to practice facilities for NFL teams across the league.
It’s likely none have been delivered with the spectacle that his purple and gold digging instrument was on Tuesday.
Goodell’s shovel used at the groundbreaking of the Vikings new team headquarters was presented to him by a skydiver from the Frog-X Parachute team, a dramatic entrance that only heightened Goodell’s impressions on how incredible the proposed facility will look.
The commissioner praised the Vikings and the Wilf family for their “long-term vision for the community” when he was on hand for the groundbreaking for the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center and TCO Stadium – the Vikings new practice facility and team headquarters that is scheduled to open in March 2018.
And while Goodell said that he was wowed by the renderings of the new site, he was most excited about the fact that the mixed-use facility will include the community, something not every practice facility does.
“I saw (the plans for the site) for the first time last November when I was here for a game,” Goodell said while sporting a Vikings 2015 NFC North championship hat. “It has incredible potential.”
“This is the way a franchise should be put together,” said Goodell, who plans to hang on to the shovel as a unique item of memorabilia. “They’ve done it in a great way.”
Goodell said he likes the Vikings plan to open up their grounds to the community in the form of hosting high school football games, and be the anchor for other development that will includes proposals for retail, residential and dining options and a conference center and hotels.
“I think that’s part of the really unique way that the Vikings and their ownership, the Wilf family, have really approached it,” Goodell said. “At every point, they were willing to involved the community and decide the right priorities and how they could contribute to those priorities to Minnesota as a state and the Twin Cities.
“Their commitment to Minnesota as a state, and obviously the Twin Cities, has really been remarkable. My hat is off to the Wilf family for that, and it’s what makes our teams successful,” he added. “We know there’s a great fan base here. Vikings fans are extraordinary. This is now investing in their community and investing in that loyalty and that passion.”
Vikings Owner/Vice Chairman Leonard Wilf presented Goodell with an honorary game ball before the Commissioner helped break ground on the headquarters using the shovel delivered from the skies.
Goodell said the combination of the new Eagan site along with the recently opened U.S. Bank Stadium makes it an exciting time to be a Vikings fan.
Goodell said there is a noticeable vibe around the league surrounding the franchise.
“There’s a tremendous amount of optimism and a tremendous amount of feeling about this team but also about what the Vikings are doing here (in Eagan).”
Goodell said he will be at the Vikings regular-season home opener (and debut of U.S. Bank Stadium) on Sept. 18 against the Packers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
The stadium will also be the site of Super Bowl LII in February of 2018.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Goodell said. “[It] is going to come fast, and the stadium as they say is one of the great facilities in the league, if not one of the best.
“What we need to do is bring the event here and do it in a way that everyone here will be proud,” he added. “The world will be watching, and that will be great for Minnesota.”