Monday, July 18, 2011
Lockout'11: Vikings face camp decision*
By Kevin Seifert
We noted earlier Monday that the Chicago Bears should soon find out if they will open training camp later this week and/or play in the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game, as scheduled. The Minnesota Vikings are also facing a deadline, originally announced to be Monday, for deciding whether to hold training camp off-site or move it to their permanent training facility in suburban Minneapolis.
Robert of Dubuque, Iowa, asked via the mailbag if we can expect to hear something Monday.
We first discussed this question last month, and since then a number of NFL teams have scrapped their off-site camp plans in favor of their permanent facilities. Scheduling uncertainty caused by the lockout made them unable to make the necessary commitment to their host schools.
The Vikings said in a statement that they would decide by July 18 if they will hold camp at Minnesota State, Mankato. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune recently reported that deadline could have some leeway, especially given the apparent trajectory of negotiations, but there has been no official word from the team on that.
*Update: The team announced late Monday morning that a final decision has been delayed. In a statement, the team said: "While the Vikings had previously set a deadline of July 18, ongoing CBA discussions have given the Vikings and the University reason to refrain from making a final determination on camp at this time. Both parties remain hopeful that the team will be practicing in front of Vikings fans in Mankato this summer."
With only two practice fields, the Vikings’ year-around facility isn’t an ideal location for training camp, and coach Leslie Frazier would have to make some adjustments to his intended practice plan. Frazier has said he would prefer holding camp in Mankato if at all possible.
The timing of this question is tight. Even if negotiations delay the start of camp, there isn’t much leeway on the back end for the Vikings to extend its conclusion. Classes at the school begin Aug. 22 and the team would have to clear out several days before in order to make room for incoming students and staff.
I know some of you are awaiting word from the team before making travel plans. Traditionally, training camp brings up to $5 million in revenues for the local economy. We will pass along any announcement the Vikings make.