The NFL notebook …
MINNEAPOLIS ó Jakeís Stadium Pizza has been a fast-food fixture on the Minnesota State University campus for nearly four decades. This summer, theyíre cooking that thin crust with crossed fingers in Mankato, Minn.
The NFL lockout, now headed toward its fourth month, is threatening a revenue-driving, profile-raising event for this small, family-owned business: Vikings training camp.
ěWeíre hoping they get it done, because itís not just us. Itís the whole state that will suffer,î said Wally Boyer, the owner of the joint where players from Jim Marshall to John Randle have recuperated after many a draining workout. Fans, too, have long made that familiar walk down Stadium Road after watching practice to fill up and cool off.
If the work stoppage lingers long enough to keep teams holding traditional training camps, the hit would be felt far beyond Minnesota, and it wouldnít just be about losing money.
In upstate New York, the Jets have trained on the SUNY Cortland campus the last two years.
ěJust their presence alone has stimulated people. Itís just good for the mental health of the community,î said Cortland State football coach Dan MacNeill.
The Cardinals have held camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff since 1988, and the schoolís Rural Policy Institute estimated it brought $7 million to the local economy last year, with an overall impact of $10 million. There were over 38,000 visitors, 81 percent of those from out of town, along with 122 jobs created by the camp.
The Vikingsí presence was enough to get Jakeís Stadium Pizza a mention in Sports Illustrated once. Boyer said his business spikes about 20 percent during camp.
ěItís a lot of frosting on the cake,î he said.
It could be easier to get a table at Sharky’s Cafe in Latrobe this summer if the NFL lockout shuts down Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
Owner John Huemme boasts of Sharky’s proximity to the Steelers’ preseason training base, less than a mile from St. Vincent College in Latrobe. But he can only watch and wait while the owners and players try to hash out a deal with the 2011 season drawing ever closer.
A cancelled or delayed camp could hurt restaurants and other businesses in Latrobe and Bethlehem in eastern Pennsylvania, where the Philadelphia Eagles train at Lehigh University.
“The entire town is looking forward to training camp,” Huemme said Friday. “We’re hoping this thing gets squared away … and we end up having a good camp like we always do.”
Discover Lehigh Valley, the visitors bureau for the Bethlehem area, estimates about 20,000 to 25,000 visitors show up for Eagles camp, which typically runs from late July to mid-August.
But the Steelers appear to be a much more popular draw. The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, which promotes the Latrobe area, estimates about 15,000 to 20,000 visit St. Vincent each day of camp to catch a glimpse of Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and teammates. It gets so busy at Sharky’s that Huemme said he has to double or sometimes triple staffing and inventory.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó Kerry Collins wants to play in 2011 and would love to return to the Titans.
Collins made the remarks after playing in the City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge in Nashville on Saturday morning, according to The Tennessean.
Collins is coming off his 16th NFL season but said he knows he has good football left in him.