Reporting John Lauritsen
MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) – Owners and players signed a deal Monday in Washington that ended the NFL lockout and put the Vikings on schedule to open camp as planned Sunday in Mankato.
With the Vikings and thousands of their fans coming to Mankato, business owners in the city were thrilled not to lose two weeks of big business.
“Everybody’s arms were in the air,” said Anna Thill, president of Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Everybody is excited.”
The relief in Mankato can be summed up in these numbers: Last year more than 60,000 fans came to the city for Vikings training camp. Altogether, they spent somewhere between $5 and $6 million in Mankato.
Andrew Boyer, of Jake’s Stadium Pizza, said the deal means a bump in business for the two weeks the Vikings are in town. The deal already has him seeing lots of dollar signs and pizzas.
“During the year we average 270 pizzas a day. I’m going to imagine we’ll make 500 a day when they are here,” Boyer said. “We will be sweating in here while the Vikings are sweating it out on the practice field.”
Some Mankato business owners, however, are still sweating it out.
Thill said because the end of the lockout came so late, Mankato businesses will likely make less money this year than they did during train in years past.
Back To Business
Waiting for NFL owners and players to reach a deal was a lot like waiting for Brett Favre to make a decision on his future. The uncertainty put training camp in limbo and has left plenty of open rooms at the Mankato AmericInn.
Yet, there is still time for a comeback.
The Mankato AmericInn general manager, Preston Lougheed, said that reservations at the AmericInn are way down compared to previous years due to uncertainty caused by the lockout. But since the lockout ended, the phones haven’t stopped ringing.
“In the last 30 minutes now, [reservations] have gone way up, and I have to get a second person on the desk to take calls coming in,” Lougheed said. “They are here two weeks out of 52 weeks, but they are the two highest-occupancy weeks of the year.”
Some Mankato businesses are offering Viking specials to welcome fans back.
The Vikings will report to Minnesota State University-Mankato on Sunday. Their first practice will be held at 3:00 p.m. Monday at Blakeslee Field.