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1st Look at TCO's Enhanced Locker, Training and Weight Rooms

Posted Mar 9, 2018

EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings players still have more than six weeks before they return to Minnesota for the team’s voluntary offseason program.

But when they do, they will be greeted by a sparkling and state-of-the-art team facility that features top-notch amenities in each nook and cranny of the building.

The organization moved into Twin Cities Orthopedics Center earlier this week after being based at Winter Park in Eden Prairie since 1981.

While there are plenty of eye-popping features of the building, Vikings players will certainly be impressed by three areas where they will likely spend the most time — the locker room, training room and weight room.

Vikings.com took a tour around those three spots and chatted with the men in charge of those spaces.

Vikings Equipment Manager Dennis Ryan has been in his role since 1981, and has been full-time with the Vikings since 1977.

Ryan helped the Vikings move into Winter Park and has now helped the franchise make the transition to TCO Performance Center.

Minnesota’s locker room in the new facility is more than 6,500 square feet, which is 2,200 square feet bigger than Winter Park. The space features 95 total lockers.

“It’s pretty exciting to be a part of the move into this building,” Ryan said. “Not just the locker room, but the entire building. The locker room is big and has … just all the amenities they could be looking for.”

Ryan said the biggest enhancement in the new locker room is actually a hidden gem. Each locker has an air ventilation system at the top of it, and also at the bottom where there is a shoe drawer.

“That’s going to be huge for the players, especially during the preseason when they’re practicing every day and trying to get shoulder pads dry from one practice to the next,” Ryan said. “And cleats and knee braces and gloves and everything they need to wear.”

A U-shaped bar sits on the top shelf of each locker to hold the shape of each set of shoulder pads.

There is also a lounge-style area in the middle of the room that features couches, chairs and eight television panels that make one massive screen.

“It’s great for them to have the space to kick back and relax and be around the fireplace and the TV,” Ryan said. “But I think when you’re trying to bring guys in to recruit them to come here, it’s going to impress every one of them.

“There’s certainly a ‘wow factor’ in the building and definitely in the locker room,” Ryan added.

The Vikings new training room is the biggest of these three spaces as it is more than 8,000 square feet.

That’s more than four times the size of the space at Winter Park, giving Eric Sugarman, the Vikings Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer, and his staff plenty of room to help keep players feeling their best.

“I just think the size and the space, the difference compared to Winter Park is remarkable,” Sugarman said. “I think it will really give the players the treatment they deserve and the ability to recover with all the different areas we have now featured.”

The main room features 10 treatment tables, while an adjacent recovery room has 12 stations for players to occupy as they use foam rollers or compression devices before and after practices.

The crown jewel of the space is the hydrotherapy room, which features a hot tub, cold tub and underwater treadmill. 

“The hydrotherapy area is probably the showpiece of our athletic training room,” Sugarman said. “We have a hot tub, a cold tub and an underwater treadmill. The hot tub and the cold tub are in-ground … they can fit 15 guys in each. 

“The whole floor is a treadmill and you can get six players in at once. It goes up to 8.5 MPH with resistance,” Sugarman said. “It’s a pretty cool room.”

A new feature at TCO Performance Center is an electronic cryotherapy room, an area where players stay in for two-and-a-half minutes as the temperature gets as cold as minus-180 degrees. 

“We think it’s going to be a huge benefit to the recovery of our players to be able to get in the cryo chamber,” Sugarman said. “It really just helps regenerate their body, keep the inflammation out and get them ready for the next day.”

The training area also features a chiropractic room and two massage rooms. Sugarman said while he was heavily involved in the planning process, it was special to see the finished product earlier this week. 

“It was fun to come along during construction, and we did make some changes along the way to help make it function better,” Sugarman said. “And just to walk in here on Monday and look around and see what we have to work with … it’s just remarkable. Kudos to ownership for giving us this opportunity.”

Minnesota’s weight room is a short walk down the hall from the training room, and is another area that has expanded.

The weight room spans over 6,100 square feet and features scores of racks, weights and various machines. There is also a cardio mezzanine that overlooks that weight room.

Mark Uyeyama, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, said he has been impressed during his first week at TCO Performance Center. 

“The end product was something we’ve envisioned since we planned for it,” Uyeyama said. “(I’m) amazed at the quality and the amount of time that was spent. It’s a pretty special place. 

“They’ll benefit from being here. Period. This room will help us in facilitating that, obviously there are a lot of tools at our disposal that we can use.”

Perhaps the most unique part of the space is that a set of garage doors that open up adjacent to the outdoor practice fields.

Uyeyama said that setup will be beneficial in terms of getting around the facility in a timely manner.

“It’s important that we have an understanding that everything is preparation,” Uyeyama said. “Whether it’s in the weight room, in the indoor [practice facility], on the field … it’s all preparation at the end of the day. 

“Time is a premium and there’s certain constraints that coincide with the NFL offseason. That was obviously something we took into consideration — the ability to go inside and outside immediately,” Uyeyama added. “It gives an indoor-outdoor feel to it, but it’s all training and preparation at the end of the day.”

And while Uyeyama said the equipment in the weight room will be a boon to players, what might be more important is that work put in by the players and coaches.

“It’s the plan that’s in place once they get here,” Uyeyama said. “The tools are a benefit, and we spared no expense with the type of equipment and the type of support we’ve got from top down from ownership to Rick [Spielman] to Coach Zim’ in regards to doing what is best.

“It boils down to what we’re doing in here,” Uyeyama added. “The glitz and glam will wear off in a week, and then it boils down to what we’re doing.”

Whether it’s an impressive locker room or incredible training and recovery room, Vikings players will undoubtedly be impressed with their new home at TCO Performance Center.

Ryan said he’s excited for players to get back to work, and get their first look at their new digs.

“The players are going to love it. I can’t wait to see Everson Griffen’s reaction,” Ryan said with a laugh. “He’s going to yell.”