Fans enjoy tradition of Mankato Vikings training camp, future uncertain

- It was purple, purple everywhere in Mankato on the biggest night of training camp yet for the Minnesota Vikings. Thousands of fans flocked to the city for the annual Night Scrimmage.  But with the groundbreaking of the Vikings' new facility in Eagan, some are wondering if the lights will soon go out on training camp in Mankato.

Count Vikings legend Chuck Foreman as among those who say the camp should remain in Mankato.

“Some of my best memories, this is where it all started,” Foreman said. “I think this is a part of the Viking tradition and I think it’s important to keep it in place.” 

Foreman spent part of Saturday signing autographs and greeting fans at Jake’s Stadium Pizza, which first opened just a few years after the Vikings first moved their camp to Mankato in 1965.

“We love having training camp here as a local business,” said Andrew Boyer-Kern, general manager of the restaurant. “It brings a lot of fans and a lot of customers. It’s a fun atmosphere as well.”

Vikings fans said it’s become a tradition to travel to Mankato for camp.

“It’s kind of fun to make it a day trip out here and make our stops, make our traditional stops on the way,” said Angie Brisbin, a Vikings fan.

"We're all from smaller towns, and I think for a smaller town to have a calling card like this,” said Mark Ulven, who traveled from Monticello. “It's pretty cool.”

The Vikings’ new headquarters and training facility in Eagan is set to open in 2018. Vikings GM Rick Spielman was noncommittal when asked following the groundbreaking ceremony about a possible move.

“We haven’t had any discussions at all about that. That’s down the road, Speilman said. “And if we do move, I know Mankato’s been great. It’s been our home for 50 odd years.”

The team is under contract with Minnesota State University-Mankato through 2018. The Vikings are currently one of 11 NFL teams that do not hold training camp at a team practice facility.

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