Out with the old, in with the new?
In the case of the Minnesota Vikings’ headquarters, that will be the case in March 2018, when the team is scheduled to move from its current location at Winter Park in Eden Prairie to the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan, which is currently under construction.
The Vikings’ new facility in Eagan will dramatically increase the space of their headquarters, from 138,000 square feet to 277,002, including more than three times the office space to 184,372 square feet.
But along with the upgrades come improvements and increased practice space.
The Vikings currently have two outdoor practice fields with limited viewing areas, as well as a field house with very little room on the sidelines and no spectator viewing. All of that will change at the TCO Performance Center, which will feature four outdoor grass fields, one synthetic turf field with stadium seating and an indoor field house.
But that raises questions about the future of training camp in Mankato. The new headquarters that open next year will have the room to accommodate training camp.
“You can just look at the space – 200 acres, the 40 acres where our practice facility will be, this environment here creates opportunities to do unique things here,” said Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren. “We’re planning to program this in ways that brings honor, class, grace to the entire state of Minnesota and the entire Twin Cities area. So no decisions have been made as far as training camp is concerned.”
Yet, it seems likely that 2017 or 2018 will be the final year that the Vikings travel to Mankato for training camp after more than 50 years of doing so.
The training camp contract with Mankato runs through 2018, but the team and Mankato have the option to end the relationship each December.
“There are options in December of each year where people can get out of a contract or make other decisions,” Warren said. “… We’ll do what’s right and we’ll communicate it, but as I said … no final decisions have been made. We have to work through a lot of issues. As you can see, this is still a construction site. We’ll work through all the logistics.”
The Vikings want to respect the history of their relationship with Mankato, but clearly the 40-acre site of the new facility – part of a 200-acre development in Eagan that will also feature walking, running and biking trails, as well as residential and commercial development – can handle the thousands that show up for training camp.
“If you look around this area, we’re programming this area to accommodate as many fans as we possibly can and give back to this community, but our goal here is to build the best sports headquarters environment that touches upon, health, wellness, technology,” Warren said.
“Anytime we can bring Minnesotans together to enjoy food, to enjoy family, what we’re doing here is we’re really providing people with memories.”
With an outdoor stadium that can seat 6,501 fans and expand to hold 10,000 fans next to four outdoor grass fields, it appears to be an ideal setting for training camp.
Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf called the Eagan site “a fan-friendly and family-friendly environment.”
For now, the Vikings say the outdoor stadium is designed, in part, with an eye toward hosting rivalry high school football games and playoff games, as well as lacrosse, soccer and possibly rugby and other events. But Vikings training camp is also one of the options.
“We’ve been [in Mankato] for over 50 years so we have a very good working relationship,” Warren said. “There are opportunities in that contract in December for us collectively and collaboratively with Mankato to sit down as far as deciding if we extend it, but currently the contract goes through 2018.”
But Warren also admitted that having training camp in Eagan in 2018 “is a possibility.”