Published August 11, 2006 01:00 am

They arrive in morning and typically vamoose by early afternoon.

[size=18px]Happy campers[/size]
Daytripping with Vikings training camp fans: From the die-hard to the bitter

By Brian Ojanpa
The Free Press


MANKATO —
They arrive in morning and typically vamoose by early afternoon.

They’re purple-clad daytrippers, the straws that stir the Vikings’ training camp drink — to the supposed tune of $5 million. That’s the economic impact they’re estimated to generate locally during the team’s annual three-week stint in Mankato.

Some fans stay overnight; a handful of zealots stay longer. But the bulk of camp visitors come and go in a day, leaving varying amounts of cash along the way.

Bleachers fill each morning with an amorphous blob of fans, given to applauding even mundane maneuvers down on the field.

And if that’s not unseemly enough, this is:

As rookie linebacker Chad Greenway rises from his chair following his designated 20-minute autograph session, eight lingering fans standing 10 feet away give him an ovation, apparently for the way he stopped that Sharpie for no gain.

On a weekday morning, we buttonholed a few of the bleacher faithful, whose fervor ran the gamut, from staid loyalists to one guy’s apparent love-hate relationship with the team.


Their snapshots:

* Brian and Angie Bramer are Mankato natives now living in Farmington. They say they come to camp every other year, and just stay for the day.

On this day, they say they may or may not return for the afternoon practice session. They figure their children will dictate that.

Their spending plans while in town will be modest. They’d like to have lunch at Mexican Village, but that may not be their call.

“We have the kids with us,” Angie says, “so maybe McDonald’s.”

“And,” Brian adds, “we’ll probably end up at the mall at some point.”

They laugh defensively, as if mall-crawling here in the dog days of August is entertainment by default.

“You know what Mankato’s like in the summer,” Brian says.



* Brandon Rystedt drove down from Coon Rapids, and he’s packing. Kinfolk, that is.

“I came with my son, brother-in-law, niece, my cousin from Oregon ...”

Rystedt says he’s visited camp three of the past four years. Their game plan: Watch morning practice, buy some Vikings clothing in the camp’s souvenir tent, have lunch at Tavern on the Ave, go home.


* Leonard Lacher of Bloomington is here for the first time, courtesy of son Nate and his girlfriend Shelly.

“Dad’s retired, we were on vacation looking for something to do, and we just decided to come down,” Nate says.

Nate lives in St. Louis now and has become a big Rams fan. Even so, that didn’t stop him from dropping $70 in the Vikings-intensive Scheels All Sports souvenir tent.


* Mike Jorgenson of Golden Valley is entertaining his brother Tom, a California resident vacationing in Minnesota.

Tom’s vacation itinerary includes a Twins game and this jaunt to Mankato. This is Tom’s fourth trip to Vikings camp. He says the first year here he stayed overnight, but since then it’s been one-day-and-done.

Like most Vikings fans, Tom sees this year’s team as a supersized question mark.

“How are they going to do?” he asks a reporter.

“If I knew that sort of thing, I wouldn’t be talking to you,” the reporter says. “I’d be in Vegas betting up my retirement fortune.”


Happy campers