Courted free agents and better draft picks.
Those two possibilities are within reach, the Vikings say, thanks to the March 1 opening of the TCO Performance Center, a new team headquarters located on a 40-acre Eagan campus nearly three times larger than Winter Park in Eden Prairie.
“I don’t think there’s another building like this. I know for sure not in the NFL,” General Manager Rick Spielman said. “I’d match it up against anyone in the country for what this building offers to players.”
Starting next week, NFL free agents such as quarterback Kirk Cousins will become available. While a free agent doesn’t always visit a team before signing there, the Vikings feel their new home should provide an additional pull. Or at least make up for the cold weather.
“Now you’ll have an opportunity to bring free agents here and show them this gorgeous building,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said, “that’s easily the best in the league right now.”
The benefits are real to Vikings players. They no longer expect to lift weights in shifts. They won’t need to wait in line for the hot or cold tubs. Punters can now punt in the indoor fieldhouse thanks to a 98-foot ceiling. A 174-seat auditorium means the Vikings no longer will hold team meetings in a corner of the end zone as they did at Winter Park.
The new facility features a nearly 7,000-square-foot trainer’s room that includes a “concussion room” where brain injuries are treated and a cyro chamber. It’s about four times as large as Winter Park’s trainer’s room. Four outdoor fields, two heated for possible winter use, lay alongside sculpted hills for drill work. A more spacious locker room increased in size by about 50 percent, and now features couches and a couple fireplaces.
Rudolph chose to stay in Minnesota to rehab his surgically-repaired right ankle, he said, because of the new facility.
“It feels like kind of cozy even though it’s massive,” Rudolph said. “It feels like this is our home. This is where we’ll come each and every day. The stadium is great, love the new stadium. But I only go there 10 times a year. This is truly where we work each and every day.”
The Vikings also hope a roughly 1,400-square-foot draft room, modernized with computer programming instead of magnets, will help boost accuracy. Instead of white boards, the Vikings’ draft board is now displayed across a wall featuring 40 55-inch flat screen televisions — touch-screen enabled to allow them to sort prospects on the wall.
The draft room will be used year-round, Spielman said, for pro scout meetings to assess the waiver wire and during training camp for roster moves.
“It’s going to give us such a huge competitive advantage on how we do our business,” Spielman said.