EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –For nearly four decades, Eden Prairie has been home to the Minnesota Vikings headquarters.
The Vikings were honored to be guests at a luncheon to say "thank you" to the city as they prepare to transition to their **new headquarters**, Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, scheduled to open in Eagan in March.
"The Vikings have had a long history in Winter Park and Eden Prairie," said Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf. "In our 56 years as an NFL franchise, the Vikings home has been in Eden Prairie for 36 of those years. This is my family's 13th NFL season as stewards of this remarkable, great franchise. We always strive to be good neighbors and good citizens, and the Eden Prairie community has been the most gracious host. We thank you for that, immensely.
"As Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant remarked down in Mankato this year, 'This is not so much the end of something, but it is the beginning of a new chapter in Vikings history,' " Wilf continued. "Eden Prairie will always be a part of the Vikings tradition and history. We are grateful for your partnership and everything you have done to support this great franchise."
Wilf directly thanked many individuals in attendance in addition to the City of Eden Prairie, the Eden Prairie City Council, Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce and the Eden Prairie Foundation. Wilf also expressed gratitude to Roy Terwilliger, a former State Senator and Chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission.
Representing the Vikings along with Wilf were General Manager Rick Spielman, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Lester Bagley and Executive VP & Chief Marketing Officer Steve LaCroix.
Spielman recalled relocating his family to Eden Prairie when he was hired by the Vikings in 2006, one year after the Wilf Family purchased the franchise.
"Eden Prairie will always be the home of the Minnesota Vikings, just from the history here," Spielman said. "I know when I was hired, we moved to Eden Prairie, and [my children were] raised through the Eden Prairie school system, the Eden Prairie football program. So personally, it will always be our home. But I know from the Minnesota Vikings standpoint, what a great job the city has done including us in this terrific community."
Notable names from Vikings history also were in attendance, including former Head Coach Jerry Burns and his wife Marlyn, former running back Chuck Foreman and several members of the Grant family.
Foreman took the podium and offered guests in the room a blend of laughter and sentimentality.
"I remember when [County Road] 18 (now Highway 169) was just two lanes – do you remember that? So if you remember that, then you remember me playing," Foreman quipped.
He recalled playing for the Vikings while their offices were located on France Avenue in Bloomington and seeing the team then transition to the nearby city.
"Eden Prairie has been a vital part to the growth of the Minnesota Vikings and vice versa," Foreman said. "I remember when we were moving from Bloomington to Eden Prairie, and the excitement that we had [about] the growth the Vikings were going to have because the facilities were just a cut above everything else.
"They may be leaving Eden Prairie, but the heart is still going to be here," Foreman added. "Everything that the Vikings have accomplished for the most part, since I left, has been here in Eden Prairie. This is a great city, an All-American city."
Nancy Tyra-Lukens, Mayor of Eden Prairie, highlighted the way the community has grown and developed around the Minnesota Vikings as one of its cornerstones.
"We're very happy that the Vikings have been in the community," Tyra-Lukens said. "We will always, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, still have Viking Drive – long after the time where most people living in Eden Prairie will remember why it's called Viking Drive."
She also presented an official proclamation on behalf of the City of Eden Prairie:
*"Whereas the city of Eden Prairie, in May of 1980, approved plans for new practice fields and office buildings for the Minnesota Vikings football organization, located in the southeast corner of the Golden Triangle Business Park, and whereas the Minnesota Vikings football organization in May of 1981 moved into their new practice facility, aptly named Winter Park after their founder and longtime team president Max Winter, and whereas the City of Eden Prairie in April of 1990 approved plans for a new fieldhouse, expanded offices, cafeteria and kitchen at Winter Park, and whereas for nearly 40 years the City of Eden Prairie has been home to the Minnesota Vikings organization and throughout that time enjoyed a positive and productive relationship. Now, therefore, let it be resolved that the City of Eden Prairie proclaims 2017 as a year to thank the Minnesota Vikings organization for their long-term commitment to the City of Eden Prairie, to bid them farewell, and to celebrate a long and productive relationship between our two organizations." *
Warren emphasized the connotation of "home" and how Eden Prairie has been weaved into the Vikings organization for more than three decades.
"When you think about having made this 'home' for 36 years, and not only home of our headquarters but all the great memories of people – you heard Chuck Foreman talk about families – and you think of all our players, our coaches, our staff that really had a big part in the shaping of this community and vice versa," Warren said. "So it really is special, and I know even for me, working in Eden Prairie from the day I walked into this building, we have some incredible memories. No matter where we're moving to, Eden Prairie will also share a special place in our heart."
Foreman, who played in Purple from 1973-79, told the guests that he knew early on in the Wilfs' ownership that the team "was in great hands" and that his beliefs have been confirmed over the past several years.
"You see the great facilities they've built downtown (U.S. Bank Stadium) and now in Eagan, and you know what I'm thinking?" Foreman asked rhetorically. "We've got this great, great, energetic defense, and we've got a pretty decent offense.
"It's a possibility – at least that's what I'm hoping, because then they can get me a couple free tickets – that they get to [Super Bowl LII] and win it," Foreman said. "And it will be Eden Prairie's name [associated with] it, because we haven't moved yet."