- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Vikings players and coaches will head to Mankato on Thursday for the start of a three-week training camp at Minnesota State University, bringing thousands of fans with them.

Local businesses have amped up their employee rosters in anticipation of a potential surge in clientele, The Free Press (http://bit.ly/1tAoE83 ) reported. Many business owners have either hired more employees or offered additional hours to their existing staff.

Steve Wegman, who owns a restaurant on campus, said he expects a 30 to 40 percent increase in business. He said the camp’s addition of more night scrimmages should also boost sales because he’s traditionally seen larger crowds on evenings and weekends.

“It’s fun having the coaches and players come in - you feel like a little kid again, even though they’re half my age,” Wegman said.

A record 69,000 fans attended last year’s training camp. Although many of the spectators are local residents, many Vikings fans travel from across the state and Midwest to see the players in action.

The 49th annual Vikings training camp takes place right before classes at Minnesota State University resume, providing another reason for Mankato businesses to prepare for their busiest time of the year.

Vikings training camp festivities are set to kick off Thursday afternoon with a tailgate party featuring Vikings players and cheerleaders.

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Information from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com