For football fans, a preview
Watching is free and festive at team training camps.
It's that time of year again.
If you're wondering how the Vikings, Packers or Bears will do this year, you can get a preview by watching the players gear
up for the season at training camps, which start next week.
Make a day of it, because all of the camps offer festivities, games of skill, giveaways, autograph sessions for kids and even
fireworks. Admission is free.
Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis.: The Packers, whose camp Sports Illustrated calls one
of the best and most fan-friendly (kids bring bikes that players ride, often toting the kids, to the field), practice across from Lambeau Field July 26-28, July 30-Aug. 3 and
Aug. 5-7, 11-14, 19-21 and 26-28.
For more about visiting Green Bay, see Packer country.
in Mankato, Minn.: The Vikings will hold practices on the campus of Minnesota State
University, an hour and a half south of the Twin Cities, July 27-28, July 30-Aug. 4 and Aug. 6-8 and 12-15.
Special events include Family Football Day Aug. 4. In the evening, players and coaches will introduce themselves and fans will have a chance to catch an autographed mini-football. The team introduction will be followed by fireworks.
Free junior training-camp clinics are
Aug. 4 and 7.
Aug. 14 is Fan Appreciation Day, with prizes for fans and the entire team available for autographs. On other days, only
certain squads are available in the Autograph Zone.
At Viking Village, fans can buy team souvenirs, food and beer.
MSU's Blakeslee Stadium and fan parking, $7, is on the south edge of town at Warren Street and Stadium Road.
For more about visiting Mankato, see Mankato meander.
At Family Fest, Aug. 3, they'll practice at Soldier Field in Chicago, $8.
Other special events include Hispanic Day, July 29; Youth Football Day, Aug. 5; Ladies Day, Aug. 7; Run With Staley, the Bears' mascot, Aug. 11; Armed Forces Day, Aug. 12; and Family Night at ONU, with giveaways, entertainment, training camps and fireworks, Aug. 13.
A Kids Zone has games, and on most days, children 4-12 can attend Junior Training Camps an hour before practice, enter a Staley poster contest and get a pass for autograph sessions.
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