Vikings to hold final Mankato training camp after 52 years
From Alan Page to Jared Allen, Fran Tarkenton to Teddy Bridgewater, Chuck Foreman to Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings spent 52 years making a 90-minute drive from the Twin Cities to Mankato for training camp.
The Vikings’ proud history of holding camp on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato is entering its final days. The team announced Tuesday that this camp will be its last in the college town 90 miles southwest of Minneapolis.
The Vikings will open their new, sprawling practice facility in the Twin Cities suburb of Eagan in March and will hold training camp there going forward. “Over the past 52 years we have formed incredible relationships with Minnesota State University, Mankato, the City of Mankato, and the entire community, and those partnerships made this decision difficult,” Vikings executive Kevin Warren said. “With our increased space and amenities, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center will give our players, coaches and staff the best opportunity to succeed, and we feel hosting training camp at our new home is the proper move for the organization and Vikings fans.”
Staying closer to home for training camp is a trend that has spread throughout the league in recent years. The Vikings are one of 12 teams to leave headquarters for camp this summer. That does not include the Green Bay Packers, who practice on their own fields in Green Bay but stay in the dorms at nearby St. Norbert College, as they have for 60 years.
Through the years, the Vikings would take over Mankato at the end of every summer and players would bunk in the dorm rooms. Quarterback Dante Culpepper and receiver Randy Moss drove flashy sports cars into town as thousands of fans swarmed them in the parking lot. Former coach Mike Tice held court at a bar and restaurant just across the street from the practice fields, and WWE star Brock Lesnar, who was trying out with the Vikings in 2004, rumbled with the Kansas City Chiefs during a joint practice.
Police used to set up shop on Highway 169 on the eve of camp to catch Vikings players speeding through the sleepy town of St. Peter to try and make the check-in time, including receiver Koren Robinson being clocked at 120 mph in 2006.
The darkest day in the team’s long history in Mankato happened on Aug. 1, 2001, when offensive tackle Korey Stringer died after a collapsing during practice a day earlier on a particularly sweltering afternoon.—AP