MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) — For the first time in more than half a century, Mankato will not be the home of Vikings training camp.
Beginning this year, the team will hold training camp at their new TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
While long-time Mankato businesses have had time to adjust, they know it won’t be the same.
“You’d meet people from Florida. From everywhere, they would come and visit,” said Kristy Tokheim of Mankato.
Every year, for 52 years, Mankato found itself on the NFL stage. And where the players went, so did the fans.
“We were always full. Always crazy busy at night,” said Kathy Depuydt of Bradley’s on Stadium.
Bradley’s on Stadium was a quick walk to MSU-Mankato and Blakeslee Stadium, where the Vikings practiced. They would hire 10 additional workers during training camp.
“Twice as much business when they were here. We were full. Players used to come in. Adrian Peterson would come in and play pool with the customers,” said Depuydt.
For bars and restaurants, it was their own version of a stadium sellout. Some have adjusted, becoming more versatile by adding catering and other options to help make up for the loss.
“We would probably average another $10,000 to $12,000 a week in sales because they were here,” said Wally Boyer of Jake’s Stadium Pizza.
Boyer is the longtime owner of Jake’s. His place was always football ready, and both fans and players ate it up.
“Kyle Rudolph mentioned he’ll miss Jake’s pizza. You get those relationships going and can’t help but help business,” said Boyer while standing in front of various Vikings memorabilia.
During training camp, Jake’s would make about 6,000 pizzas and take in, on average, an extra $20,000. Boyer said business is still good and the Vikings are still his team, but they will be missed.
“We will definitely. Not only the business but the notoriety,” said Boyer.
During training camp, the Vikings paid MSU-Mankato about $115,000 for housing and other expenses, but that just covered cost. However, the university did make some money off of things like parking fees.