Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/12/12
MINNEAPOLIS With their own team's new stadium on the horizon, members of the Minnesota Vikings spent time at one of Minneapolis' newest sports facilities.Quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Sage Rosenfels, center John Sullivan, and tight end Kyle Rudolph made a visit to Target Field on Friday prior to the Twins' game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The four Vikings took batting practice off Twins manager Ron Gardenhire before moving to the outfield to shag fly balls as Minnesota took BP."It was a whole lot of fun. I grew up playing baseball," Rudolph said. "Any time we can get out here and hit a few balls and then get out their and run around and shag batting practice is a lot of fun."Rosenfels, the Vikings' third-string quarterback and veteran of the group at 34 years old, hit a pair of home runs, including one into the upper deck in left field. Rudolph hit one also in the upper deck while Ponder and Sullivan never left the yard. In fact, Sullivan's hits rarely left the infield, drawing laughs from on-looking Twins Justin Morneau, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe."They're an important part of Minneapolis," Plouffe said of the Vikings. "It's fun just to see them enjoying baseball. It kind of makes you enjoy it again as well. It also makes you feel a little better about yourself when those big guys out there are having trouble swinging."Ponder, who was the Vikings starter as a rookie last season, has attended several Twins games since moving to Minnesota. He and Plouffe became friends on Twitter before finally meeting in person on Friday.Like Rudolph, Ponder played baseball as a kid and enjoyed revisiting his young in the batting cage Friday."It was my sport growing up. I always thought I was going to be a Major League Baseball player," Ponder said. "I kind of made a decision my sophomore year of high school that football would probably be the better route for me and quit baseball and just was a full-time football player."The move to ditch baseball paid off for Ponder, who was drafted 12th overall by the Vikings last year. But even given his baseball background, Ponder was still bested by his Vikings teammates in Friday's impromptu home run derby."Both of them hit it in the upper deck. It was unbelievable," Ponder said of Rudolph and Rosenfels. "But it was fun, though."Friday's batting practice also allowed the Vikings to have a little fun after having to watch and hear about the potential future of their team. As the Vikings stadium bill bounced around the Minnesota state Capitol, it remained uncertain as to whether the team would even stay in town if a new deal wasn't reached.But after clearing several hurdles this week, the near-billion dollar stadium is a done deal, pending a few formalities."Obviously it's something we've been wanting for a while. We're excited about it," Ponder said. "As players, we're excited to play in a new stadium. I know the fans and everybody are really excited and relieved. We just really appreciate all the legislators and all the people that put in time and work and effort. Just a relief that it's done."The Vikings are coming off a lackluster 3-13 season, but they earned perhaps their biggest victory in recent memory this week."The guys are thrilled. We wanted to stay here all along," Rudolph said. "For us to know that we got a stadium done, we can focus on holding up our end, and that's winning football games. We're excited about next year and things to come for the Vikings."Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter
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