The Minnesota Vikings have a long history in Eden Prairie: Of their 56 years in existence as an NFL franchise, 36 of those have been anchored in Eden Prairie, where the team has its offices, practice fields, and other facilities.
The Eden Prairie News published an article in 1980 about the impending construction of the Vikings’ Winter Park, named after Max Winter, one of the Vikings’ founders, who served as the team’s president from 1965 to ’87. That article talked about the team trying to construct a practice facility that would avoid the “prying eyes” of competing teams. And, the Minnesota Vikings photo above is from the open house held at the new facility in 1981.
Yes, it’s a longtime connection that on balance has been positive for Eden Prairie and has given the city a ton of name recognition. So many of the articles and other news reports about the Vikings carried that familiar dateline: Eden Prairie.
Winter Park has not only been a prominent part of Eden Prairie’s history, but has hosted events like Chamber of Commerce luncheons and the Foundation for Eden Prairie Schools’ annual “Taste of Eden Prairie.” The indoor field was also an exciting locale for end-of-season playoff games played by Eden Prairie kids enrolled in youth football.
“We’re the home of the Vikings!” is a boast that Eden Prairie residents could drop on their out-of-town relatives to establish bragging rights. The presence of Winter Park also didn’t hurt the city’s efforts to attract other businesses in those development heydays of the 1980s and ‘90s.
But, nothing is forever, and the Vikings next spring will move to Eagan, where they are constructing office and practice facilities on the much bigger scale that is needed by the team – bigger than can be accommodated at their current Eden Prairie location.
Eden Prairie, starting in 2018, will no longer be home to the Minnesota Vikings. But we can’t let this big chunk of EP’s modern history pass without acknowledging the longtime connection between the Vikings and Eden Prairie.
A luncheon will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, at Bearpath Golf & Country Club to recognize this connection. Fittingly, it’s being sponsored by a collection of community organizations: the Eden Prairie Community Foundation, Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce, Foundation for Eden Prairie Schools, and the City of Eden Prairie.
This walk down memory lane will have WCCO’s Mike Max as its emcee. Anecdotes will be provided by former Vikings star Chuck Foreman, longtime local ticket holder and former school principal Bob Hallett, Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens, and Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf. Also attending will be several of the Eden Prairie City Council members who reviewed and approved the plans for Winter Park in 1980.
You’re invited. The cost is $25 per person, and reservations are required ahead of time. Register on the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce website. Look for their events calendar and the listing for the Vikings Appreciation Luncheon. You can pay at the event, or be invoiced.
This is a great opportunity to say, “Hey, Vikings: It’s been fun!”