Please don't hate me. But, I was one of the lucky 66,483 people who attended the very first regular season Minnesota Vikings football game at the new U.S. Bank Stadium last Sunday evening.
However, unlike some of the folks at the game, I had not spent some crazy amount of money for my ticket. I heard stories of tickets being sold for hundreds of dollars. Maybe even a couple of thousand dollars. I would guess that was some rabid Packers fan who now regrets that decision.
No, I didn't spend a nickel on my ticket. Mine came from my favorite son-in-law, Wade Volk, who got them from his brother, Troy Volk, owner of Volk Transfer in Mankato. The Volk firm does all the trucking for the Vikings, from hauling the equipment to Mankato during training camp, to trucking the game programs from Brown Printing in Waseca to the stadium.
Sen. Julie Rosen at the Vikings stadium.
My being at the first regular season Vikings game at their new stadium continues a long personal tradition.
I was in attendance at the last Vikings game at Metropolitan Stadium, the very first game at the new Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and the last game played at the Dome.
You may recall my column a while back where I confessed to my criminal background. I had stolen seats from the Met Stadium after that last game. But then, so did everyone who was there. Some even tried to take the goal posts home as a souvenir.
But I digress. You want to know about the new stadium, not the old ones.
U.S. Bank Stadium is indeed something to see. It is huge and feels wide open. A little bit like the old Dome, but on steroids. From those huge glass doors to half the roof being glass, it doesn't feel as closed in as the Dome did.
But while the inside is great looking, the outside, at least to me, looks a bit like Noah's Ark just landed in downtown Minneapolis. I think it is supposed to look ship-like, but its massive size is hard to disguise. There is a normal size Vikings ship in front of the stadium, right about where the old Metrodome sign was located.
Here are some other observations.
Despite all the hype, the hallways still feel small, the restrooms are no way big enough, and the place is noisy. Really noisy. The sound system blasts out everything, from the constant music to the announcer to crowd noise. It's difficult to hear what the person next to you is saying. Sometimes that is a blessing, however, if you are sitting next to an inebriated, obnoxious Packers fan.
But, on the plus side, there is a wide variety of interesting food items for sale, and they have a lot of craft beer stands for those of us who enjoy good beer. Of course, you will have to bring along some serious cash in order to purchase that beer. Actually, at $6 to $10 per beer, it is a fairly normal price for a stadium these days.
They say that every seat in the place has an excellent view of the field, and I think that is true. After all, this is finally a true football stadium. The old Met was a baseball field used for football, while the Dome attempted to be both a football and a baseball field thus failing to be either.
The new jumbo-trons are huge and terrific, as is just about everything in the shiny, new facility. The lighting is fantastic and there were even fireworks and purple lights and a halftime show and, well, it was a great time.
What can't you do when you spend $1.2 billion?
When I entered the stadium through those huge glass doors the first person to greet me was our own state senator, Julie Rosen.
You may recall Sen. Rosen was perhaps the biggest proponent in the State Legislature for building a new Vikings stadium. She worked hard to make it a reality and took a lot of grief about it. But, she was sure all smiles on Sunday.
"What do you think of the place?" she asked me.
Impressive, I told her. Very impressive. And I meant it.
Oh, and did I mention that the Vikings beat that over-hyped team from Green Bay?
Life is good.