These Norsemen are looking to plunder their gridiron competition. The Minnesota Vikings Football Club joined the National Football League in 1961 and won its only league championship in 1969; however, the team has been unsuccessful in four attempts to win the Super Bowl. Minnesota's roster has included such Hall of Fame players as Warren Moon, Alan Page, and Fran Tarkenton, as well as former head coach Bud Grant. Vikings fans cheer the trumpeting Gjallarhorn at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. The team has been owned since 2005 by a group headed by New Jersey real estate developer Zygmunt (Zygi) Wilf.
Like other professional sports franchises, the Vikings generate revenue primarily through broadcasting fees, gate receipts, and merchandise sales. However, Minnesota's struggle to put a consistent winner on the field has led to inconsistent support from fans. This has also hampered the team's efforts to secure financing from the state for a new stadium to replace the aging Metrodome.
Minnesota made headlines in 2009 when it courted veteran quarterback Brett Favre out of retirement in an effort to energize the fan base and produce a championship. The move did produce a winning regular season, but the Vikes fell short of the Super Bowl, losing to the New Orleans Saints in the conference championship game. Favre previously played 16 seasons with the division rival Green Bay Packers before retiring in 2008 only to return for one season with the New York Jets. The veteran quarterback has stated that 2010 will be his final NFL season.
Despite leading the team to the NFC championship game in 2009, head coach Brad Childress was relieved of his duties after the Vikings started the 2010 campaign 3-7. Childress was replaced by assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who was named interim head coach in November 2010 and head coach in January 2011.
The Vikings organization has a marketing partnership with local retail attraction Mall of America. The naming-rights deal runs through the end of the 2011 season, coinciding with when the team's lease at the arena runs out. The franchise was able to secure the sponsorship when it became the sole remaining tenant at the Metrodome: The Minnesota Twins baseball team and the University of Minnesota football team both vacated the domed stadium for their own facilities that year. The Mall of America is owned by Canada's Triple Five Group.
Wilf and his partners purchased the Vikings from Texas billionaire McCombs for $600 million. The team's ownership group includes Reggie Fowler, originally the group front man who would have been the NFL's first African American owner. When his finances were found lacking, the Wilf group (Zygi, his brother Mark, cousin Leonard, and fellow real estate developers Alan Landis and David Mandelbaum) revealed itself as part of the package. Wilf and his family, descended from Holocaust survivors, own Garden Commercial Properties, a shopping mall developer, and Garden Homes Development.
▲ Show Less▼ Show Full Description