MINNEAPOLIS - August 28, 2016. The date a new era of Vikings football began at U.S. Bank Stadium
Better than 60,000 people filled the Vikings new home for Minnesota's third preseason tilt against the San Diego Chargers.
Sure it was a preseason game. But tell that to the fans who showed up at 6 a.m. to fire up the tailgate grill. Tell that to the U.S. Bank Stadium staff. Tell that to the Vikings players.
Sunday was not only a tune-up for the home team, but for the hometown fans too. Many got to set up the tailgate spread and serve up ice cold beverages outside U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time.
"This is great. We're so excited about this team and looking forward to calling U.S. Bank Stadium home for many years to come," said Vikings fan Gary Doen.
He was one of hundreds of fans who tailgated in one of the four designated lots north of U.S. Bank Stadium. By no means were the lots 600-space capacity full, (again, preseason) but fans seemed to enjoy the atmosphere, despite the limited.
There was one complaint echoed by many fans who were tailgating. The lack of restrooms. For the two lots (closest to the stadium) there were just two portable toilets. Those who weren't prepared for that spent a lot of tailgating time in the restroom line.
Just outside the main (west) entrance, fans can pick up the latest Vikings swag, listen to the Skol drum line, or grab a cold brew in the new Vikings Longhouse, all located in what's dubbed as the Vikings Village. The new green space another block west, Commons Park, is a nice and big family-friendly atmosphere including kids games, face painting, a chance to meet the Vikings cheerleaders and more There is no alcohol allowed in this area.
“It’s something special,” said John Sevaland of Plymouth. He and his friend, Tom, attended the last game at the old Met Stadium, the first and last game at the Metrodome and first game at TCF Bank Stadium.
Fans began streaming into the $1 billion stadium around 9:30 a.m. Some reported the concourses were hard to navigate before the noon kickoff. Others said it took nearly 40 minutes to get to their seats.
“This solidifies the fact the Vikings are here to stay,” said Vikings fan Paul McDonald. “I think the players feel that they’re investing in the team. I hope it gives them a push to do better.”
Overall, the fans seemed to enjoy themselves and were just happy to have the Vikings back in action. Like everything that comes with a new stadium, new ideas and features will surely be added to make the game day experience even better for the fans.
The Vikings regular season home opener is against the Green Bay Packers the night of Sept. 18 and will be televised by KARE 11.