Updated: May 21st, 2012 6:15pm
Zulgad's Roundup: Vikings to work on long-term deal to stay in Mankato

Zulgad's Roundup: Vikings to work on long-term deal to stay in Mankato

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by Judd Zulgad

The Minnesota Vikings will hold training camp in Mankato, Minn., for the 47th consecutive year this summer, but they will do so under a one-year contract.

Because the team's stadium situation had been uncertain, the Vikings and Minnesota State University, Mankato, did not do another multi-year deal after their long-term agreement ended in 2011. Instead, the Vikings wanted to wait to see if a new stadium would be approved.

That is very close to happening now with only the Minneapolis City Council needing to vote on the issue later this week.

Rick Straka, vice president of finance and administration at Minnesota State, said the school and Vikings officials will meet in the coming weeks to discuss a long-term agreement that will keep the Vikings in Mankato.

"They do a separate agreement for food with the dining vendor," Straka said Monday. "But housing and the rental of the fields, we'll be talking all about that."

The one-year deal that will cover 2012 is actually being ironed out right now, Straka said.

The Vikings announced their training camp plans last week for Mankato. They will report on July 26 and break camp on Aug. 16. The Vikings will be in southern Minnesota for three weeks this year, a longer period than has been the case in recent years.

The issue wasn't that the Vikings wanted to leave Mankato early, but rather that the school needed the team to move out of its dorms so it could get them ready for the incoming students.

That's no longer an issue because the Vikings will be the last tenants to use the aging Gage Towers. The plan is for the dorms to be demolished sometime in the summer of 2013, according to Straka.

Two years ago the Vikings moved from Gage to the much-newer Sears Residence Hall. Sears had all the modern technology Gage was lacking, including central air conditioning.

But the Vikings ran into two issues with Sears. One, it wasn't as close to the practice fields as Gage, which sits right by the fields, and two, it didn't have a dining area within the building.

Last year, the Vikings moved back into Gage, despite the fact that each dorm has to have a window unit to provide air conditioning.

Straka said that when Gage comes down it won't be replaced on that site by new dorms. Building Sears and another dorm, which will open this year, will create space to house the students who once stayed in Gage.

"The Gage site is probably going to be green space or parking to start," Straka said. "That's what is in the master plan right now. There are no plans to put an academic building or residence hall on that site."

One reason university officials don't want a dorm on the Gage site is because of concerns about students crossing the intersection at Stadium Road. There was a time when that traffic was controlled by stop signs, but once stop lights were installed traffic coming up the hill in front of the dorms doesn't necessarily slow down if there is a green light.

Good stuff

Catcher Drew Butera became the sixth position player in Minnesota Twins history to pitch in a game during his team's 16-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at Miller Park.

Butera entered in the eighth inning and gave up no hits and one walk in an inning of work. Butera hit 94-miles per hour on one pitch and fanned former Twin Carlos Gomez. Butera said he had pitched in high school.

Brewers starter Zack Greinke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he came away impressed. "I don't know how he ended up being a catcher if he throws that good," Greinke said.

Parise a fit with Rangers?

Former North Star J.P. Parise has made it clear on multiple occasions that he doesn't know where his son, Devils star winger Zach Parise, might end up as a free agent after this season.

But J.P. did recently tell Newsday that his kid is a fan of Rangers coach John Tortorella. The Devils and Rangers are currently facing each other in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"Zach likes Torts a lot," J.P. told the paper. "Zach knows how to work, he doesn't shy away from the discipline part of it. He'd fit right in there."

The 27-year-old Parise got to know Tortorella during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The Rangers coach was an assistant and Parise played for the U.S. club that won a silver medal.

Parise will be one of the hottest free agents on the market this offseason and the expectation is that the Minnesota Wild will make a big play to sign him.

However, the Rangers would make sense for Parise, if his desire is to remain in the New York area.

The Devils have some serious financial issues, so Parise almost certainly would have to take less to remain with that team.

Parise, meanwhile, is among those slated to participate in an NHL Players Charity game on June 20 at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. The game will be hosted by Defending the Blue Line, a non-profit organization created by a group of National Guard soldiers in Minnesota that assists families of all branches of the military with costs associated with hockey.

Those scheduled to participate include Josh Harding and Nate Prosser of the Minnesota Wild; Matt Hendricks of the Washington Capitals; and Jamie McBain of the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Gopher and USA hockey player Gigi Marvin also will take part.

Tickets for the event are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

End game

Steve LaCroix, the Vikings' vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer, said that since the House and Senate passed the new stadium bill that the team has seen increased interest in season tickets "from current, past and new accounts." Because the renewal process is ongoing, LaCroix said he doesn't have any specific numbers to share at this point. By the way, single-game tickets for the 2012 season will go on sale in mid-July. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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