Vikings draft party goes to MOA Field

The Vikings draft party will start a new chapter this year. The team announced that the party is moving to Mall of America Field instead of the team's Winter Park headquarters.

One of the longstanding traditions of the first round of the draft has been that fans gather to eat, drink and share memories of the Vikings at the indoor practice field at Winter Park. Vikings fans have crammed into the fieldhouse by the thousands – even when the team didn't have a first-round pick following the Jared Allen trade prior to the 2008 draft.

While the Vikings play at Mall of America Field, their fans will gather there this year as well. The Vikings announced Tuesday that the annual team draft party will be moved from Winter Park to the Mall of America.

The event will get underway at 4 p.m. April 26 and continue until the end of the first round of the draft. While the Vikings are scheduled to be on the clock for their first-round pick presumably within a couple of minutes of the draft – Indianapolis will likely have Andrew Luck signed by the April 26 start of draft weekend and the Redskins will have Robert Griffin III all but locked up as their pick when the draft gets underway – there is a chance the Vikings might get bold and try to move up into the end of the first round in the event that a player they covet drops.

History has told us that fans and the draft party have created plenty of memories. There was the giddiness of the Adrian Peterson selection in 2007. There was the elderly woman showing Mike Tice she thought he was No. 1 (just not with the finger typically associated with the "We're No. 1" chant). There was the vociferous booing of Tice when he drafted Kevin Williams after Vikings play-by-play announcer Paul Allen had the crowd chanting, "Suggs! Suggs! Suggs!" with the expectation that the Vikings would draft talented DE Terrell Suggs. There was the year the clock ran out and two teams jumped in front of the Vikings. There was the stunned silence – with a few scattered screams of "Boo!" and "Who?" when the Vikings replaced Randy Moss with Troy Williamson. There was Jared Allen showing up with a cowboy hat partially covering his mullet promising to get 320-pound Pat Williams into a pair of tight-fitting jeans.

The moments are ones that the tens of thousands of fans that have attended draft parties have enjoyed over the years, but, this time around, the revelry will take place in Minneapolis at the site of Vikings games.

The Vikings radio broadcast team of Allen and Notre Dame's favorite son, Pete Bercich, will be on hand to emcee the event. The festivities will include interactive games, food and beverage concessions and several current and former Vikings signing autographs to benefit the Vikings Children's Fund.

General admission tickets are $10 (free to season ticket holders) and seating in the V.I.P. section is $75. Children 5 and under are given free admittance to the general admission section. For those looking for advance tickets, they are available at the team's website.

As things currently stand, fans will be encouraged to show up early, since they sit at No. 3 in the draft pecking order and the first two picks have been locked and loaded for the last month. Vikings fans have had a ton of memories associated with the draft and 2012 will add to that scrapbook of favorite moments. But this time, it will happen at a different venue.

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • From the "Ironic Circle of Life" Department comes this: Vikings wide receiver Michael Jenkins was a member of the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 10, 2007 when he and teammates came into the locker room with three games remaining in the disappointing 2007 season to see a letter from head coach Bobby Petrino saying he was leaving the team immediately. That same day, Petrino was part of a press conference announcing that he had been hired as the head coach at the University of Arkansas. There was no personal informing of the players or the guts to play out the string for the final three games – something that Jenkins and his teammates were stunned to learn. They were told in the most impersonal of ways that their head coach had bailed on them – via a letter. On Tuesday, the 51-year-old Petrino was fired following a scandal involving a 25-year-old girlfriend (Petrino is married). While Petrino had been placed on administrative leave following a motorcycle accident involving the 25-year-old mistress, it would seem that karma came back to bite him – he was informed of his firing in the same manner he let his Falcons players know he was leaving them, via an impersonal letter.

  • Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is busy back home in New Jersey testifying in an epic land development lawsuit that has lasted 20 years and seen four different judges hear the case. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case have accused Wilf of theft and "organized crime-type activities" in court. The Wilfs have denied those charges. Wilf is testifying again this week in the case. The case claims that two 25-percent business partners of the Wilfs are owed $20 million, but are seeking treble damages under New Jersey racketeering statutes.

  • Appearing on ESPN Tuesday, former Colts G.M. Bill Polian said the Miami Dolphins should do whatever is necessary to get ahead of Cleveland to draft Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill. Given that the Vikings would almost surely lose out on OLT Matt Kalil (not to mention other potential blue-chippers CB Morris Claiborne and WR Justin Blackmon) if they traded back five spots, it might take a big ransom for the Vikings to trade off the spot. A more likely scenario would be for the Vikings to hold Cleveland hostage for a third- or fourth-round pick, move back one spot and take Kalil as planned.

  • The Minneapolis City Council has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, April 24 to get public input on the Vikings stadium bill.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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