Last night the Minnesota Vikings got the official go ahead to begin construction on a new team headquarters and practice facility that will be located in Eagan. According to a release from the organization, the council had to vote on changing the land-use designation from Major Office to Mixed Use, and they voted unanimously to do so.
This will allow the Vikings to develop an area that will house the team headquarters, practice fields, a 6,000 seat stadium. From the official release:
The 40-acre Phase I is expected to include the following:
· Five outdoor fields - four grass, one synthetic
· Outdoor stadium with an anticipated capacity of 6,000 (expandable)
· Outdoor training areas, including a sand pit and inclined surfaces
· Indoor practice facility with a 100-yard synthetic surface field and full-clear height for kicking
· Team auditorium and player position meeting rooms
· Media center/press facilities
· Expanded locker room, weight room and equipment facilities
· Cardiovascular and specialized speed rooms
· Hydrotherapy room and post-workout recovery rooms
There will also be new administrative offices for front office staff, and the entire organization will be housed under one complex. Currently, the Vikings organization is spread out among three buildings, with the main headquarters at Winter Park in Eden Prairie.
Along with the stadium, this is another significant investment in the team by the Wilfs, and a far cry from the days of former owner Red McCombs, who's penny pinching got so bad that former coach Mike Tice once paid money out of his own pocket to repair the air conditioning at Winter Park.
With a new, state of the art training facility, though, one has to wonder how much longer the team will go to Mankato for training camp. According to the Vikings, the facility should be ready to move in to in the Spring 2018, which is when the contract for Mankato expires.
Progress is progress, and this new facility that brings the Vikings into the 21st century is long overdue, I get that, but there's something special about Mankato. The Vikings have been going to training camp there for 51 consecutive years, and for many fans, it's become an annual tradition. For me, living out of state, going to Mankato reminds me just how popular the Vikings are, and being there makes me feel like I'm back among my people.
There's been nothing official announced from the team about the future of their training camp site, but if you haven't made a trip down to Mankato yet, you probably should, if only for a day. Because if I were the Vikings, it would make no sense to go to Mankato when I have a brand new, full up pro football campus that would preclude the need for going anywhere to train.
But one thing about the Wilf ownership that I love, besides the...you know...new stadium, new team headquarters, the hiring of Mike ZImmer, etc., is that they're pretty dialed in to the traditions of the Vikings, and they listen to the fans. So maybe Mankato won't go away as a training camp site, at least permanently. I could see some sort of arrangement where the Vikings spend a week there, and the first weekend they have family night and then break for Eagan.
But those questions will be answered in time. For now, enjoy the fact that the Vikings have transformed from a cut rate operation neglected by a used car salesman from Texas into a first rate NFL organization, with the best stadium in the NFL, the best coach, one of the best front offices, and now a state of the headquarters and training facility on the way.