For five decades the Minnesota Vikings have been attending training camp at Minnesota State University Mankato. For many Vikings fans visiting Mankato is a summer tradition. However, it is a tradition that could be coming to an end. The Vikings are building a new team facility in Eagan that will have a stadium and multiple practice fields. Will the new team facility spell the end to training camp in Mankato?
I have no idea. If it is, then get the Mankato training camp experience before it’s gone.
What’s so cool about training camp in Mankato? The whole town that gets overrun by Minnesota Vikings fans who are filled with hope for the next season. Fans from all over the country make the trek to Mankato to watch practices and snag autographs. It’s a little like Christmas for football-starved fans.
We’re sharing what we’ve learned so you can have a great trip to Minnesota Vikings training camp.
Camp is open to the public from Monday, July 24 until Tuesday, August 8 and camp will be closed on August 1 and August 6.
This year the rookies, some of the quarterbacks, and some other players will report on July 23, the rest of the team will report to camp on Wednesday, July 26. That means the first practice for the full team will be on Thursday, July 27.
Saturday, August 5 is when the team has its very popular night practice at Blakeslee Stadium. This is the event where they introduce the team and have fireworks after the practice.
Camp breaks on August 9 before the Vikings depart for their preseason game at the Buffalo Bills.
Check the schedule when you are planning your trip to training camp so you don’t skip off to Mankato only to find that the team has a day off.
Minnesota in the summertime is an adventure in road construction. You’re planning a nice day and then suddenly you’re testing your knowledge of alternate routes.
Check your route to Mankato against the Minnesota Department of Transportation website before you go so you don’t get surprised. The site has information about current and future construction projects. And, if you download their app to your phone you can take that information with you and get updates on any crashes along the way.
Coming from out of state? Here are the Department of Transportation sites for the states surrounding Minnesota:
- North Dakota https://www.dot.nd.gov
- South Dakota http://www.sddot.com
- Iowa https://www.iowadot.gov/#/
- Wisconsin http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/
The Vikings also have driving directions and parking information ($10 a day) on their website. Plus, they also have a pdf of the campus showing where the practice fields are, the Autograph Zone, and the Vikings Village area.
Hotels rooms in Mankato during training camp disappear faster than Goldfish crackers at a preschool. Book as early as you can to save yourself headaches. There are a lot of sites and apps for booking hotel rooms, choose whatever you like best.
But what if you didn’t think you’d be able to attend camp and then your plans suddenly change and you’re Mankato-bound? What if you’re just really spontaneous? Then you might like the HotelTonight app because it caters to people looking for last minute deals.
If you want to save money, there’s also Airbnb. The people we’ve talked to who have tried it really liked it.
For the folks who like to camp or want to drive their RVs to Mankato, Campendium has a list of camps and parks in the area. You might also like the RV Parks and Campgrounds app.
Admission to both the Vikings Village area and to watch the Vikings’ practices is free. Yes, free.
You enter the Vikings Village through a large, air-conditioned tent filled with team merchandise and step out of the tent into the rest of the Vikings Village where there are games to play and booths to browse. There are also plenty of food options available in the Vikings Village, mostly ballpark foods like hotdogs and snacks. Between the official team merchandise in the tent and the food right at the event, you’ll want to have plenty of money with you.
In general, the Vikings Village opens an hour before the morning walk-thru and 45 minutes before the afternoon practice—it closes between the morning walk-thru and the afternoon practice. People often line up before the Village opens so they can get a good seat for the afternoon practice. Make sure to check the practice schedule so you’ll know what time the Vikings Village opens on the days you plan to attend.