EAGAN, Minn. — The beaches and pleasant California sunshine took a back seat for Kyle Rudolph this offseason for the first time in his pro career.
Instead the Vikings two-time Pro Bowl tight end will settle for signs of winter ending in Minnesota.
Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, a 277,000-square-foot facility equipped with creature comforts that opened Monday.
Rudolph was able to tour the Vikings new headquarters and training facility on Wednesday and returned Friday morning when nearly 75 media members toured the completed venue.
"I'm not going to say that we went without at Winter Park … it's just now everything here is so nice," Rudolph said during a scrum with reporters. "I think the best answer I can give you to that question [about the need to go offsite] is that for eight years I've gone to Southern California in the winter time, and I'm choosing to stay here and rehab here and train here all offseason until we come back in April. We already have the great staff – strength staff, training staff – and now they have this incredible building to work in and work with.
"The one thing I'm still trying to work out is figuring out how to get the Southern California weather," Rudolph quipped. "But hey, if it's in the high 20s and sunny, I'll take that."
View a tour through photos of the Vikings brand new headquarters, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
A purple and gold, air-cushioned Nike sneaker on his left foot, Rudolph's right foot was in a walking boot but no longer a cast that was placed after his surgery to repair an injury suffered in December at Carolina. Rudolph boldly gritted it out to start every game the rest of the season, even catching a touchdown the following week against Cincinnati.
After the Vikings season ended, Rudolph delayed the surgery so he could participate in previously scheduled golf and ski trips. Rudolph and quarterback Sam Bradford hit the slopes together.
"We realized after the first day on the mountain that we had to be doing it all wrong, because you see – we like to consider ourselves pretty decent athletes – and when you see other, older people on the mountain just casually skiing and going all day, and we were dead after a run or two, just our legs," Rudolph said. "We're not in ski shape, so he actually went out and took a lesson after I left, just to try to become more of an efficient skier. I'm a very, like, leisure skier. … But it was fun. It was a good time for us to kind of get away a little bit after the season."
Rudolph and Jarius Wright were among players who made an appearance on the *9 to Noon *KFAN 100.3-FM radio show on Friday that was broadcast by "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen and Paul Charchian from TCO Performance Center.
Rudolph said he will be back Monday to start working with Vikings Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman and staff to begin rehabbing.
"We can kind of hit the ground running with the rehab process," Rudolph said. "Honestly, it timed out perfectly with when I had my surgery to when we move in here as players. Some of the guys have been around, but … I knew I was going to have to have the surgery for most of the year, after I had the ankle injury."
Now, he will have an expansive locker room made cozier by a seating area for players that is accented with two fireplaces and ample space in the new training room.
"I came in Wednesday, and now today – it feels kind of cozy," Rudolph of the building that is more than double the size of its predecessor, Winter Park. "Although it's massive, it feels like this is our home. This is where we'll come every day. The stadium's great, I love the new stadium, but I only go there 10 times a year. This is where we work each and every day."
Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf also spoke with media members after the tour. He said Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, which was privately financed, is the latest step in trying to bring a Super Bowl title to Minnesota by providing players with a topline training facility to complement U.S. Bank Stadium.
"We're very proud of this franchise and what we've built here," Wilf said. "It's about making sure that we take care of the people in our organization, and we want to do that and build an environment that we can maximize the potential to win championships. That's what it's about. Buildings don't win championships, but it gives us a chance for our players to feel right and perform at their highest level.
"You saw the locker room, the recovery rooms, the way we treat our players – I mean, we invest a lot of money into our team, and we want to make sure they're taken care of properly," Wilf added. "Like we did at the stadium, we're going to have it, now, the other 355 days of the year over here in Eagan – to take care of our players and make sure they're at maximum potential."