Marvel at the Vikings’ 6,500-square foot locker room, if you must. Or the players’ lounge area surrounded by 95 lockers. Or the two fancy fireplaces on either side of the lounge.
As for Dennis Ryan, he gets more joy from his overflowing storage space, his six washers and his six dryers.
In 58 seasons, the Vikings have had two equipment managers run the locker room. Jimmy “Stubby” Eason did it from 1961 until 1980. When he lost his battle with cancer in 1981, Ryan was promoted.
“When I started working with Stubby in 1975, we were over at Midway Stadium in St. Paul,” Ryan said. “When the Twins season ended, we’d move to Met Stadium and practice there. But we had no storage at Met Stadium, so we kept everything at Midway.”
The minor league baseball facility had a dirt basement. Field equipment was stored in the first-base dugout. Another storage room — the “Blue Room” — was created when Stubby blocked off an entryway with blue-painted plywood.
“We had one washer and one dryer,” Ryan said. “Stu Voigt nicknamed me ‘Midway’ because every time he asked, ‘Where’s Dennis?’ they said, ‘He’s at Midway.’ ”
When the Vikings moved to Winter Park in 1981, they had three washers, three dryers and more room than they needed.
“We were stashing things everywhere,” Ryan said. “And making sure we kept it all from the mice.”
Ryan is happy as he looks into one of the fancy lockers in Eagan. Naturally, he is pointing out the most practical element.
“What I’m most happy with is every locker has a ventilation system,” he said. “Guys can put their equipment in there and it’ll be dry by the next practice. That’s what matters to me.”