The Minnesota Vikings could decamp for summer training from Mankato to Eagan as early as 2018.
Even though the team’s current contract in Mankato runs through 2018, COO Kevin Warren said the team will revisit the terms in December 2017.
“It’s possible,” Warren said of the move, but added that the team has a valued 50-year relationship with Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Warren’s comments came in response to questions before a media visit to the Eagan construction site that will become the team’s new headquarters and practice facility. Warren joined team owner Mark Wilf along with several other Vikings executives to discuss progress on the facility and surrounding land since the groundbreaking 10 months ago.
The Vikings plan to move into their new home in March 2018, just after the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium. They will depart Winter Park, the team’s home in Eden Prairie since 1981. Currently, the 190 Vikings employees (not including the players) are spread across office space in several buildings and cities. This new home, just south of Hwy. 494 on land formerly used as the Northwest Airlines headquarters, will bring everyone together.
The high-tech new headquarters appear to be a perfect spot for training camp, easily accessible to the Twin Cities fan base. Warren, however, said it’s possible coaches may want to decamp. He also noted training camp now lasts only 13 days.
The Eagan office headquarters and training facilities will occupy only 40 acres of the nearly 200-acre site purchased by the Wilfs. The family, New Jersey real estate developers, is actively researching and developing plans that focused on placing a hotel on the eastern parcel of the site, across the lake from the headquarters. For the southwestern parcel, they’re working toward building up to 1,000 apartments as well as possible office and retail space. None of those projects will open before the new headquarters.
Wilf and others talked about the project becoming a technology and talent incubator as well as a world-class, family-friendly destination for Vikings fans. He said they would welcome recreational use by bikers and runners of the lush green space and wetlands.
“First and foremost, we’re going to give our players the best possible chance to succeed,” Wilf said, emphasizing that the ultimate goal is to bring home Lombardi Trophies for winning the Super Bowl.
The new facility will include an outdoor stadium with 5,000 seats expandable to 10,000 as well as four outdoor practice fields. The team envisions playing host to “Friday Night Lights” games for area high school teams.
Called the Twin Cities Orthopedic Performance Center, usually shortened to TCO Performance Center, the development includes both a full-range of orthopedic medical facilities as well as a new performance-focused operation.
Team executives went over many design details of their new building including a cafeteria that overlooks the lake — as opposed to the surface parking lot visible from the Winter Park cafeteria.
The weight room will shift from what is essentially a hallway in the basement at Winter Park to an open glassy showcase.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson