MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) — It has been a big week of football news in Minnesota with the ending of the NFL lockout and word that quarterback Donovan McNabb will be sporting purple and gold this year. As a result, there’s a lot of hype in Mankato this week as the community prepares for the 46th annual Vikings Training Camp.
“The business community was just kind of waiting on their tip-toes, waiting for that green light to go ahead and start getting engaged with training camp,” said Anna Thill, president of the Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Since receiving word that there will be an NFL season, Mankato businesses jumped on the opportunity to purchase their Vikings training camp T-shirts and they’re gearing up for what is hopefully the best year yet.
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“I know coach (Leslie Frazier) wants to see this be the biggest camp ever and he’s put that kinda out there ‘Everybody come to camp’ and so we’re hoping that can kind of get people riled up to come,” Thill said.
Last year, the Mankato economy saw a $5 million impact from Vikings fans who stay in town for the training camp’s two weeks to catch a glimpse at their favorite players. Thill said hotels are already starting to fill up as they have people come from 28 different states along with Canada and England.
“Overall the community really embraces the Minnesota Vikings as they come to town and I think that’s part of the reason they continue to come to Mankato,” Thill said.
Tom Frederick, proprietor of Pub 500, a popular NFL player hangout, said there’s a positive buzz around town. He added that most Mankato football fans are excited about McNabb joining the team this year and he’s looking forward to having him in the area.
Players will begin reporting to camp on Sunday.