Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf, HOF Head Coach Bud Grant, GM Rick Spielman and COO Kevin Warren shared their appreciation for what the campus and community have meant to the organization as the âsummer homeâ since 1966.
MANKATO, Minn. —Thanks for the memories — the Mankato memories.* *
The Vikings organization delivered heartfelt words of appreciation to Minnesota State University, Mankato, city officials and business leaders and presented three signed Vikings helmets on Monday evening.
Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf, Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant, General Manager Rick Spielman and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren shared their appreciation for what the campus and community have meant to the organization as the "summer home" of the Vikings since 1966.
"It's really wonderful to be with all of you," Wilf said. "Thank you for the many years of outstanding support for the Minnesota Vikings. It has been special to be here in Mankato.
"Mankato is a unique environment from a fan and facility standpoint, really special," Wilf added. "It will forever be a part of Vikings history and tradition. Thank you for your support, and Skol Vikings."
Grant, who was hired in 1967, brought some of football's greatest teams and players ever to prepare each summer from his first season until 1983 and did so again for one more year in 1985.
The first footsteps toward 11 NFC/NFL divisional titles, the 1969 NFL Championship and appearances in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX and XI during Grants tenure were taken on this campus.
"Mankato has served Minnesota as well as any community in the state," Grant said. "You can almost tie them together: Mankato-Vikings, Mankato-Vikings."
Grant's steely blue eyes surveyed everything at camps, from the development of players to the enjoyment of fans of all ages who came from near and far to spend summers with their favorite team.
"Everybody from this part of the country, from South Dakota to Iowa and Wisconsin has been to Mankato," Grant said. "It's been a great experience. I think the thing that made it is the people of the area have embraced us to the greatest extent everywhere we've been.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you for making the Vikings part of Mankato forever," Grant said.
The Vikings are constructing a new headquarters, Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, in Eagan. The facility is scheduled for completion in spring 2018 and set to become the year-round home for the team.
Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson said he grew up "down the hill" from the school. He remembers how exciting it was to see the Vikings around town during a break in the practice schedule.
"They were part of our community," Anderson said. "It's so heartwarming to see so many former Vikings come back to Mankato because, as we progress in our own lives, we all have our own memories.
"We're going to miss it. I'm going to miss it, but I do believe there's brighter days ahead for the organization," Anderson said. "This is being done in the best interest of the organization, and that's a benefit for all of us."
This is Spielman's 12th training camp with Minnesota. When reporters and guests visit Spielman, he makes sure to drive them around the neatly groomed campus where the university is celebrating its 150th anniversary (1868-2018).
"I can't tell you what it's meant to be part of this community for 11 years," Spielman said. "Everything we ever had to do from a football standpoint has been provided.
"This will always be our home away from home," Spielman added.
Warren said "life is really about relationships," and added that the Vikings, university and city have enjoyed a "perfect and complete relationship."
"Two of the greatest words in the English language are 'thank you,' " Warren said. "There's a lot more that can be said as we look to our heads, hearts and spirits, but we are truly grateful for what everyone has meant to this relationship, to be able to build it all of these years."