Vik­ings own­ers join group try­ing to bring MLS to Nashville

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The own­ers of the Min­nesota Vik­ings have joined a group try­ing to bring a Ma­jor League Soc­cer ex­pan­sion fran­chise to Nashville, af­ter a failed bid to bring a club to their en­closed NFL sta­dium.

Zygi Wilf, Mark Wilf and Leonard Wilf are mi­nor­ity part­ners in the Nashville project, ac­cord­ing to Nashville Soc­cer Hold­ings CEO John R. Ingram. Terms of their in­vest­ment haven’t been dis­closed. The ex­pan­sion fee be­ing charged by the league is $150 mil­lion. “We’ve been pas­sion­ate about soc­cer for a long time, and we be­lieve very strongly in its fu­ture in the United States,” Mark Wilf said in a phone in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press. “Re­ally, our in­ter­est hasn’t wa­vered since our ef­forts to bring MLS to Min­nesota.”

Min­nesota United FC joined the MLS this sea­son. The league pre­ferred an out­door, soc­cer-spe­cific venue to the 68,000seat U.S. Bank Sta­dium that opened for the Vik­ings last year. Min­nesota United, led by owner Bill McGuire, is play­ing out­side at the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota for two sea­sons un­til its new sta­dium opens.

The Wilfs, who made their for­tune in real es­tate out of the fam­ily busi­ness founded in New Jersey, bought the Vik­ings in 2005. Zygi Wilf is owner and chair­man. Mark Wilf, Zygi’s younger brother, is owner and pres­i­dent. Leonard Wilf, their cousin, is owner and vice chair­man.

“They know sports and sports busi­ness, and they are well-known and re­spected for their pro­fes­sional sports ex­pe­ri­ence,” Ingram said in a state­ment re­leased by his group. “The Wilf fam­ily brings ex­per­tise in a num­ber of ar­eas like sta­dium de­vel­op­ment, fan ex­pe­ri­ence, mar­ket­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and ticket sales. They are a strong ad­di­tion to our bid.”

Nashville is one of 12 cities that sub­mit­ted bids for four ex­pan­sion fran­chises, with both Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, Cincin­nati, Detroit, In­di­anapo­lis, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Diego in Cal­i­for­nia, St. Louis, San An­to­nio and Tampa-St. Peters­burg in Florida. The MLS is ex­pected to an­nounce two sites later this year. —AP

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