The Vikings, ahead of their second training camp at their practice facility in Eagan, announced several changes Thursday morning for how they will welcome fans in 2019.
Camp will be open to fans for 16 full-squad practices, which is one more than the team had on its schedule in 2018 and keeps the team’s training camp among the league’s most accessible, at a time when many teams are cutting back on their number of open training camp practices. The Philadelphia Eagles announced this week they will have just one practice open to fans — for which they will charge admission — during training camp.
Unlike the Vikings’ first training camp in Eagan, however, the team will close its morning walk-throughs, as well as three days of practices for rookies at the beginning of camp, to the public. The move comes after the early practices and walk-throughs were met with sparse attendance during the Vikings’ first summer at the TCO Performance Center in 2018.
“With the rookie practices, we based that decision on the limited fan demand we’ve seen for those practices over the past several years,” said Jeff Anderson, the team’s vice president of strategic and corporate communications. “It just feels more appropriate to celebrate the start of training camp when the entire team is present.”
The Vikings also will limit training camp autograph sessions to kids under 18, in an effort to ensure children get a better chance at meeting their favorite players. With walk-throughs now closed to the public, the team will open autograph lines at 11 a.m. each day, awarding a wristband to the first 150 kids in line for each player’s autograph session. Once those kids have a wristband, they’ll be able to watch practice and return to the autograph line later.
Players will sign autographs at the conclusion of practice around 4:30 each day, in a move the team hopes will cut down on the need for fans to arrive early and spend hours waiting in the heat for an autograph. The Vikings also will introduce the “Helmet Hike” during training camp, where a group of children will get the chance to carry players’ helmets from the locker room to the practice field and pose for a photo with a player.
“The walk-throughs are being held much earlier in the day than in years past,” Anderson said. “We think by not having the four-hour gap between walk-throughs and the start of practice, we can provide a much better experience for fans.”
The Vikings’ first full-team practice will be July 26, with their first padded practice July 29. The team will again hold a Saturday night practice in TCO Stadium on Aug. 3, and will close training camp Aug. 16, before their first home preseason game against the Seahawks on Aug. 18.
“The Wilf family and Vikings management and football staff continue to value opening camp every year to the public, and making sure it’s an affordable experience and a family-friendly atmosphere,” Anderson said. “That continues to be our approach every year.”
Like they did last year, the Vikings will make 4,000 general admission seats available for training camp each day, selling 1,000 reserved seats to each practice. The reserved seats cost $20 last year, but will be available for $15 this year on some days where the Vikings anticipate lower demand. General admission seats are free, but fans must reserve tickets on the Vikings’ website. Fans can reserve up to four GA tickets for a maximum of two practices, and can purchase daily parking passes for $10 on the team’s website. Fans who do not reserve parking passes ahead of time can purchase them for $20 on arrival.
Vikings season ticket-holders can reserve training camp seats starting at 10 a.m. on June 24. Tickets will be available to the general public at 10 a.m. on June 26.