This time next year, south metro residents won’t need to travel to Mankato to watch the Minnesota Vikings training camp.
After months of speculation, the Vikings announced Tuesday its intention to host Verizon Vikings Training Camp at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center beginning in 2018 in Eagan.
“This is a great day for Eagan, that’s for sure,” said Brent Cory, president and CEO of the Eagan Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re thrilled to be one of only 32 cities to have the honor of hosting an NFL training camp. … Our hospitality industry plans to roll out the purple carpet. It’s going to be great for everyone. Restaurants, retail, the outlet mall, all ships will rise.”
The Vikings are scheduled to open training camp June 24 in Mankato for the last time after spending the last 52 seasons at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Before the season, the Vikings traditionally spend about two weeks practicing one to two times per day on the practice fields on the campus, which are open to the public.
About 60,000 fans come to watch the Vikings in Mankato every summer. Mankato officials have said the training camp meant about a $5 million economic impact.
The team also participates in an open scrimmage/practice during one evening at the campus stadium, which includes team introductions and fireworks.
There are also scheduled autograph sessions throughout training camp.
The new facility in Eagan features five outdoor practice fields and a 6,000-seat stadium.
With the facility planning to also be the home of state high school games, NCAA games, other NFL events and concerts, Cory said that it’s going to become a vibrant part of town.
One of the planned features is a hotel and convection center on the eastern portion of the development.
“We really don’t have something on that level,” Cory said. “We would welcome a large scale hotel and conference center. I think it would be successful.”
Cory said there will be some logistics to figure out in the next year for the hospitality industry, but “most people saw this coming. And summer is already a great time with folks coming to Eagan. This will certainly compliment that.”