Monday, September 19, 2016

First Night at US Bank Stadium

Last month Jay Harris, my mom’s cousin, sent me an E-mail asking if I would like to go to the Vikings/Packers game—the first regular season game in US Bank Stadium.  I thought about it for one second and marked the date.   

Jay, his two sons, and I arrived at the area west of the stadium last night about a hour before kickoff.  We had taken an Uber from northeast Minneapolis.  The crowd was already gathered and waiting for the very special night.   The ratio of Vikings to Packers fans was about nine to one.  This wasn’t a game that Vikings fans sold their tickets to Packers fans. 

Attending a football game is much different than attending a baseball game.  At Target Field I usually walk around, enjoy the atmosphere, and watch the game.  Last night I found my seat, stayed there, and watched the game.  I can’t even give an adequate review of US Bank Stadium because I only saw a small section of it.   I did love seeing the skyline of Minneapolis through the huge windows, and I enjoyed the wider seats.

And I loved the game.  Quick review of the Vikings.  Terrific defense—especially the play of the secondary.  Shaky offensive line.  Bradford was terrific.  The Vikings don’t win that game without Bradford’s pin-point accuracy.  I was amazed at his touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph.  Stefon Diggs had a break-out game.

And though I came to see the game and the game was important, the night was really about the first regular season game in the Stadium.  The Vikings did a terrific job of pre-game and halftime entertainment.  I loved the video narrated by Ahmad Rashad sharing the history of the Vikings.  I got teary-eyed when Bud Grant sounded the Gjallarhorn before the game.   I loved the fire-breathing sculpture and the exhaled flames.  I felt the heat from the flame as I sat hundreds of yards away.  Having the Minnesota Orchestra play Purple Rain during halftime was quite a touch.

Going to US Bank Stadium was like a successful first-date.  I had a lot to see and think about.  And I want to go back and see more.  

But going back won’t happen for a while.  Perhaps the Prep Bowl.

The crowd was raucous and people behind me could not stop yelling things that I wouldn’t want my daughter to hear.  Of all the sports events I’ve attended, the crowd at a Vikings game is the most crazed.  That craziness cuts a lot of different ways.  Bottom line—I’d rather be part of a Twins crowd than a Vikings crowd.

But the night was memorable—though leaving the Stadium with 66,000 people was a headache.  But I’m glad I now have the memory.  “You know I attended the first regular season game at that Stadium,” I’ll be able to say in the future.  Every Minnesotan will eventually have to go to US Bank Stadium.  And just as the Metrodome was at first a destination for every Minnesotan, this Stadium will be too.  And I’m guessing the love for US Bank Stadium will last much longer.

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