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Vikings start setting up training camp on campus
Vikings begin moving equipment for Aug. 1 training camp start.
By Tanner Kent, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 7/26/2011]
The Minnesota Vikings arrive Sunday.
And for some in Mankato, sweeter words were never spoken.
The Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated that training camp is worth upward of $5 million to the local economy. The roughly 60,000 annual visitors from 28 states, said Executive Director Anna Thill, would have been a sore loss for local businesses that depend on the revenue.
The Vikings are one of 15 NFL teams that hold training camp on the road, away from their team headquarters. But until Monday, the lockout between NFL players and owners had threatened to close those camps before they even opened.
In fact, several NFL teams — including the Jets, Giants, Ravens and Rams — canceled their off-site training camps weeks ago.
But the Vikings held out.
In June, the team announced it would make a decision on camp by July 18. When that date arrived, the Vikings and Minnesota State Mankato agreed to delay the decision in an apparent attempt to hold out for a deal between players and owners.
They stalled just long enough. An official decision on the Vikings’ 46th camp in Mankato was made just hours after the NFL’s labor agreement was finalized.
“We wanted to prolong our decision as long as possible in an effort to maintain our training camp tradition of practicing in front of Vikings fans in Mankato,” said Vikings co-owner and president Mark Wilf in a statement to media.
“The Vikings appreciate the patience and flexibility shown by Minnesota State University and the Mankato community in making this work, and we look forward to returning to our training camp home in August.”
Players will report to camp Sunday. Practice begins Monday.
The camp will be shorter than usual with the constricted timeline. The Vikings need to vacate campus at least one week before classes begin at Minnesota State Mankato on Aug. 22 so that residence halls and facilities can be prepared for students.
The Vikings began moving equipment to Mankato even before a labor agreement was reached and an official decision about camp was made.
During the weekend, trucks began transporting equipment to Minnesota State Mankato's dorm rooms. On Monday afternoon, more trucks arrived carrying blocking sleds, camp apparel, medical equipment — even a covered cart labeled “PLAYBOOKS.”
Several media, including some from the Twin Cities, were on-hand to film the move-in.
Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson said in a news release that training camp is “integral” to the community. The Vikings 46 years of camp at MSU are the second-longest such stretch in the NFL.
For the complete Free Press story, see Tuesday's print edition or the e-edition at http://mankatofreepress.mn.newsmemory.com/.