From Football to Fútbol: Life Time Launching Youth Sports Initiative at Viking’s Winter Park
Life Time's new Life Time Work facility in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. ( Photo by Life Time)

From Football to Fútbol: Life Time Launching Youth Sports Initiative at Viking’s Winter Park

As it continues to expand business beyond gyms, the Chanhassen-based fitness company is debuting a flexible, no-pressure soccer program for kids at the Viking’s former practice facility in Eden Prairie.

Chanhassen-based fitness and lifestyle company Life Time revealed plans on Wednesday to use the former Minnesota Vikings Winter Park practice facility in Eden Prairie for a new program geared toward engaging kids in team sports – particularly soccer.  

The new program, called Life Time Sport, welcomes kids from member and non-member families alike to participate in 10-minute, pick-up-style scrimmages. Life Time bills the games as a “no-pressure, fun environment,” that will be supervised by certified coach referees tasked with guiding and encouraging players.

A vision of Life Time founder, chairman and CEO Bahram Akradi, Life Time Sport aims to provide a flexible, alternative option to the more rigidly structured organized team programs that can be hard for parents to manage amid otherwise packed schedules.

In prepared remarks, Akradi said when he was a kid, he’d go play soccer in the street with friends after school; nothing was ever structured, but they still learned the important lessons sports offer, including leadership and life skills.

“Today, as a parent of young kids, I realize it is quite the opposite,” said Akradi. “Our lives – and those of our children – now are so incredibly organized, it can be inconvenient and exhausting. That’s why I’m so passionate about Life Time Sport, which offers fun, free play and a controlled level of guidance from a coach, so kids can get back to just being kids.”

Participants of the Life Time Sport program will be divided by age and ability, and play on smaller-than-usual, short-sided fields, which will give each player more touches on the ball. Winter Park’s indoor space fits six to eight of these kinds of fields, accommodating 60 to 80 players at once, while the site’s two outdoor football fields will become 12 to 16 soccer fields, suited for 120 to 160 kids.

Other updates Life Time plans for the Winter Park space – which the Vikings still own, but vacated earlier this year in favor of a larger practice facility in Eagan – include adding a viewing area, lounge rooms with televisions, and a cardio and weight room for adults. Life Time’s use of the site is based on an interim lease agreement, though details of the lease are not being disclosed.

“Life Time has been a long-standing and valued partner of the Minnesota Vikings for decades,” said Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren, in a statement. “We are excited to know Winter Park will be filled with fun through Life Time Sport while we continue to evaluate the long-term redevelopment plans for the property.”

A rendering of the Viking's Winter Park updated for use as Life Time Sport soccer fields. (Photo courtesy of Life Time)

The introduction of Life Time Sport is the latest example of Life Time’s effort to build a “Disney-like” enterprise that extends well beyond traditional gyms, into other experience offerings.

As TCB reported earlier this year, that includes: co-working spaces under a new business arm called Life Time Work – the first such building debuted in Pennsylvania in May and three are expected to open in Minnesota next year – and a second business arm called Life Time Living, which involves luxury apartments. Its flagship gyms now fall under a third business arm, Life Time Athletic.

Life Time Sport is yet another new experience from the company, only this time, catered specifically to children.

Amid renovations at Winter Park, Life Time Sport will offer outdoor play and limited access events in September, and a pilot version of the program is currently operating in full at Life Time’s Lakeville location. The Winter Park grand opening – upon completion of the renovations – is expected to come later this fall.

Life Time Sport membership pricing will be announced prior to the opening, but membership will be open to family members of all ages, and prices will be per person and based on age. Sign-ups have already begun via a waitlist.