The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 14, 2011

Vikings will make camp decision by July 18

MANKATO — The announcement wasn’t what Mankato has been waiting for, but it’s a start.

The Minnesota Vikings have told Minnesota State University they plan to decide where to hold training camp by July 18.

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday the team will train in Mankato as usual if the NFL lockout is lifted any time prior to the decision deadline. But if the work stoppage continues, he said the team will hold a shortened camp at Vikings headquarters in Eden Prairie.

Frazier said if the lockout ends and all goes according to plan, the Vikings will report to training camp in Mankato on July 31.

Rick Straka, MSU’s vice president of finance and administration, said the Vikings communicated that they settled on the July 18 date because team officials would need the time between then and the start of camp to move equipment and set up facilities. Some players and coaches also report to camp early.

MSU’s classes begin Aug. 22 and university staff need at least a week to prepare campus before their arrival. For that reason, Michael Cooper, MSU’s media relations director, has said the university has very little flexibility in when camp can be held.

Straka, too, reiterated that training camp “would not affect our academic schedule.”

While few other details were available from the Vikings, Straka added that the whole situation could become moot if the state government shuts down and MSU is forced to close campus.

The Vikings are one of 15 NFL teams that hold training camp on the road, away from their team headquarters. For those cities, training camps are big business and Mankato is no different.

When River Falls, Wis., lost Kansas City Chiefs training camp in 2005, the city estimated its losses at $1.4 million. The Rural Policy Institute at Northern Arizona University estimates that Arizona Cardinals training camp brought $7 million in economic impact to Flagstaff and the university last year.

In Mankato, more than 60,000 camp visitors are estimated to generate about $5 million in local impact.

MSU’s agreement to host Vikings training camp expires after the 2011 season.

— The Associated Press contributed information for this story.

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