MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings will have one final training camp in Mankato before making their big move closer to the Twin Cities.
The loss of hosting training camp also means a loss of revenue for the city.
The Vikings go hand in hand with Jake’s Stadium Pizza, as evident from their memorabilia-covered walls.
“This will stay, but it won’t get added to anymore because, you know, it’s signed memorabilia,” Jake’s owner Wally Boyer said.
Boyer says business goes up 20 percent during the Vikings training camp. The pizza joint is less than a half-mile away from the Minnesota State University-Mankato campus.
“It helps everybody around town. The hotels fill up, even shopping,” Boyer said. “And the biggest thing for us that we’re going to miss is kind of the free advertising.”
Anna Thill, president of Visit Mankato, says the team has brought millions of dollars in revenue to the city.
“About $5 million each year, with 60,000 to 64,000 people that come through for camp,” Thill said.
She says city officials were aware the Vikings would be moving their training camp up to Eagan — they just didn’t know exactly when.
“There’s mixed emotions with this. You want to have a strong team, so they have a good facility,” Thill said. “Mankato [has been] a great place for that for 52 years.”
Now they expect the last training camp to draw even more fans.
Both Boyer and Thill say while the loss of revenue is disappointing, the Vikings’ long stay has put the city on the map. They think they will sustain the growth.
“We’re confident we’re going to be able to do something,” Thill said. “Maybe not 64,000 [people] in three weeks solid, but scattered throughout the year, most certainly.”
The Vikings will begin holding practices at MSU-Mankato next week. Vikings fans who attend training camp this year will get a commemorative poster celebrating the team’s 52 years there.