EAGAN, Minn. — Hundreds of passes have been thrown at TCO Stadium during the first week of Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
A bevy of on-field drills and stations have been set up each day to allow youth and families to enjoy the sport at the first training camp hosted by Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
This fall, the action will shift from drills to high school games, thanks to an agreement between the Vikings and the Minnesota State High School League to host five games at TCO Stadium, a 6,000-seat venue at the heart of the Vikings new headquarters.
The games will include Farmington vs. Eagan (home team) on Sept. 28, Lakeville North and Prior Lake (home team) on Oct. 12 and three state quarterfinal playoff games on the weekend of Nov. 9-10, the Vikings and MSHSL announced Tuesday.
"One of the first things that we discussed when we talked about our dream of building a new, world-class facility was to figure out a way to be able to create an environment to enhance a relationship with high school football here in the state of Minnesota," Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren said.
"You can tell this is not something that was an afterthought," Warren added. "It was really the epicenter of the entire facility, and we're excited to see our players perform there and the high school players, too. We'll do all that we can to make it as big as we can and make Minnesotans continually proud of what we do and what we stand for."
MSHSL Associate Director Bob Madison said the organization "is very grateful to the Minnesota Vikings for opening your world-class facilities to our student-athletes and member schools."
"I'm not sure there's a better community-driven activity, Madison said. "Football brings communities together on Friday nights. We're really looking forward to bringing some of those communities together here this year. They're going to have an incredible opportunity under the lights at TCO [Stadium]."
Eagan Head Coach Ben Hanson, Prior Lake quarterbacks coach Ken Klamm, Lakeville North Head Coach Brian Vossen, Farmington Head Coach Adam Fischer and players from each school attended the Vikings walk-through practice and press conference Tuesday.
All were on hand to hear Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins express his excitement over the announcement. Entering his seventh season in the NFL, fourth as a starter and first in Minnesota, Cousins said that the high school years of football are still his favorite.
"I saw some of the players out here in their jerseys," Cousins noted at the end of his media session. "Certainly, I wouldn't trade living a dream here playing in the pros, but nothing gets more fun than high school varsity football under the lights. I will probably go into the [Vikings] facility on Friday nights and watch from the window to be able to see the games. I am looking forward to it just as much as everyone else. Can't wait to see it unfold."
Madison said, from conversations with administrators in other states, that he is certain that the Vikings are offering a "unique opportunity" to high school athletes.
Warren said the Vikings wanted "to pivot" from the private model that has guided the design of other teams' headquarters. He said the Wilf family deserves credit for the commitment to creating the public space.
"I just want to give the [Wilf family] major kudos," Warren said. "They've supported our vision. They are big proponents and supporters of high school football."