For all the Vikings fans out there, get ready for a season of nerves. And if you don’t keep up with football, now is the time to change that. For one day, I had the chance to attend the Vikings Training Camp and experience the atmosphere of the Twin Cities Orthopedics (TCO) Stadium. The Vikings Training Camp goes through August 16, so if you’ve never been, here’s the lowdown.
The TCO practice facility is a 76,000-square-foot space located in a secluded area of Eagan. Here, you can tour the Vikings Museum, get down with some sporty activities, or just watch the team practice. The museum gives fans an up-close look at the history of the Vikings, with a 360-degree video theater and other interactive exhibits that examine the 50-year-old franchise. I personally enjoyed looking back at the 50 greatest Vikings players and watching the top plays throughout franchise history.
Activities are scattered throughout the TCO stadium concourse: obstacle courses, flag football, the Skol toss, an inflatable field goal kick, the 40-yard dash. When you need to refuel, check out the available concession stands and food trucks.
Daily autograph sessions for those under 18 follow each Vikings practice, and if you’re looking for a specific person, check out the Vikings Training Camp schedule. When I was there, specialists Kevin McDermott, Dan Bailey, and Austin Cuttling were signing.
I won’t soon forget watching the team practice from the sidelines. It wasn’t until I was standing next to the players that I realized how big they actually are. On the press side of things, reporters from every news station staggered along the sidelines, waiting to interview players as they walked off the field.
During the morning press conference with Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer, he was asked about his team’s defense, and he didn’t hold back frustration: “They need to get more competitive. … If they want to be great on defense, they need to play with a chip on their shoulder.” Zimmer added that he was optimistic about his offense.
In between the morning walkthrough and afternoon practice, I caught up with Vikings fan Bruce Hill, who had heard about the Vikings Training Camp from one of his neighbors. He was taking care of his grandchildren for a few days and decided to bring them out to experience the fun and watch the practice.
There’s more to the Vikings Training Camp than just football, after all. It’s a chance to watch young fans see their favorite athletes up close, plus the anticipation of the upcoming season.
Have you attended the Vikings Training Camp yet this summer? Let us know your thoughts below.