Team had planned to sell tickets for practice
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings scrapped plans on Wednesday to charge fans admission fees to attend training camp practices in Mankato.
Greater Mankato Training Camp, LLC, the company that manages the camp, announced an agreement with the team to eliminate the planned $5 to $10 admission charge to watch practices.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf will pick up the tab for the cost of tickets to regular practices, but will still charge for special events including two planned passing scrimmages.
"We greatly appreciate this action taken by the Wilf family and the Vikings organization," said Paul Wilke, president of the Greater Mankato Training Camp, LLC. "We have an outstanding working relationship with the Vikings and we are thrilled that our shared goal of keeping training camp accessible to all fans will be met."
Selling tickets for select events in training camp is commonplace throughout the NFL, but the Vikings would have been the only team in the league to charge admission to all 30 practices. Training camp opens July 29 on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Steve LaCroix, vice president of sales and marketing, said fans didn't hesitate to make their feelings known in the days following the initial announcement.
"Like all publicly discussed issues, our fans are very passionate about things," LaCroix said. "We heard some feedback which helped us get a feel for what the situation was."
The move also could have hurt them on the field. Charging for the practices would have opened the doors for scouts from around the league to come to training camp and get a head start on game-planning for the season.
The NFL bans scouts from the free practices in training camp, allowing them to attend only events for which the team sells tickets.
"I'm not going to deny that wasn't part of the discussion," Lacroix said. "But it was really a decision made from a fan perspective. They are the ones who take time out of busy schedules to come and support us in Mankato for those three weeks."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press