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On Saturday 10-21-17 through Tuesday 10-24-17, I fulfilled a major goal and visited Minneapolis to see a Vikings game and to just as importantly see the new US Bank Stadium.
Holy fucking shit kids. This stadium is incredible.
Some of the reasons for choosing this weekend was; it was right around my birthday, the Vikings were hosting the Baltimore Ratbirds and it was in October before the weather turned ball freezing cold.
This was a wise decision.
My previous visit to Minneapolis involved a trip to the Metrodome where my boys proceeded to get their ass handed to them in embarrassing fashion by the Packers. Green Bay won 38-3. It was also 7 degrees when we landed, it snowed pretty much the entire trip and it was windy as fuckall the entire time. It was also the Sunday before Thanksgiving in late November.
Trust me on the October thing.
Minneapolis is a quick 3 hour flight from LA and we had no issues at all getting there. Pro-tip! If you can get it, try and get the “TSA Pre-screen” option. You get to bypass the regular line, keep your belt and shoes on and basically avoid the agony of pre-flight security. Bonus!
The Minneapolis Saint Paul airport has 2 terminals. Terminal 1 or “Lindbergh” is the primary terminal that serves the major airlines. Terminal 2 or “Humphrey” hosts Southwest and other lower fare airlines. We were in Terminal 1.
One of the beautiful things about Minneapolis is they are painfully aware of how the Winter weather can affect travel and the city planners planned accordingly. The Light Rail line’s “Blue line” goes directly to the airport terminals so if you arrive in the Winter you can just head downstairs while remaining indoors and board the train towards “Target Field” which is the terminus of the train right in downtown Minneapolis.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Northstar hotel which is on 2nd avenue and 6th street and is easy walking distance to the stadium, the rail stop and to all of downtown Minneapolis. Here’s the hotel location.
The train only takes about 20-25 minutes to get from the airport to downtown. We actually stayed closer to the “Government Plaza” train station shown here.
Which you can see is very close to the stadium. There is actually a “US Bank Stadium” train station that’s right in front of the stadium if you are staying farther away from downtown.
Some of the reasons for choosing the hotel were, I’ve stayed there before and knew the logistics of getting around, it has a great location and view of downtown.
It also checks off one of my required “must haves.”
The hotel bar serves food, appetizers, has free bar snacks and a really solid Happy Hour daily from 3-6 with great drink deals.
Most important however, the hotel is attached to the downtown “Skyway” that links all of the downtown skyscrapers to each other via a very smart and well thought out system of indoor walkways that allow visitors to traverse the downtown without getting out in the elements. This is fucking genius. Here’s what the skyway looks like.
So if the weather is cold and shitty you can just access the skyway, follow the signs/maps and get as close as possible to your desired destination without going outside and freezing your ballsack off.
Here’s a map of the skyway.
Downtown Minneapolis is home to some pretty incredible architecture and is unbelievably clean. I didn’t see a single spot of graffiti the entire time. Then again they are hosting the Superb Owl this year so that may not be a coincidence. Here’s a nice shot of the US Bank Tower.
Here’s some of the architecture unique to Minneapolis.
And here’s the world famous Harssensnarfer Regent Arms. Home to the International Ashtray Museum!*
*May not be the actual name.
A quick oddity that we discovered was how Minnesota treats the Bloody Mary cocktail. Which I must point out should be the official cocktail of choice when seeing a live game. I drank three of them, had a solid smooth buzz and didn’t once feel the urge to leave the game to have a piss. It is now a regular feature of the “right” household. But check this shit out. Here’s a “bloody” from the airport bar.
Please note, this has a green olive, a celery stalk and a goddamn beef stick in it. Yep. A Slim Jim. What the suffering fuck is that all about?
Here’s one from the stadium.
Again with the goddamn beef stick!
Here I am inside the stadium enjoying said cocktail.
Fun story! When we were at the stadium we found a bar – of which there are plenty – and asked for a bloody mary. The bartender said, “Try that stand next door. They do the deluxe edition with the beef stick.”
I asked “Can we get just a normal bloody mary?”
She responded completely in shock “Don’t you want your beef stick?” In the standard hilarious Minnesota accent. Then we decided what the fuck, let’s get the goddamn works.
It not only had a beef stick, it had celery and a big slice of dill pickle. As our own King Hippo pointed out it was a big ole glass of sodium. Toss out the pickle and it was a solid drink. One bonus, after drinking three of these I had no issues with hunger at all. We had a solid breakfast and then I got to gnar on 3 fucking beef sticks! Hunger foiled!
There’s a restaurant/bar in Minneapolis called Hell’s Kitchen that has their own take on the bloody mary. Take a look at this fucking madness.
For beer options, the biggest local brewery is Surly Brewing. Their standard IPA was quite drinkable but I didn’t really get in to some of their other offerings but it’s worth a try if you visit.
Food-wise, if you have visited the Twin Cities or even watched some food travel shows then you know what they are famous for. Well, apart from Walleye. The Juicy Lucy!
I added bacon to mine. This is not the easiest burger to eat. There’s definitely a timing issue at play here. If you bite into it too soon you are going to burn your tongue and the roof of your mouth to a goddamn cinder. If you wait too long it turns into a big wad of congealed cheese. Exercise caution. It’s actually more of a novelty thing as I had a better bite of a burger at Ike’s downtown. I just tried a bite of the burger at Ike’s since I had already ordered the fried chicken. Seeing as how this is Minnesota and you have to go caloric or go the fuck home, my fried chicken was served over mashed potatoes WITH!!!
Holy fucking hell, this place.
As you denizens of the upper Midwest are no doubt aware, the one local and ubiquitous favorite is definitely the cheese curds.
These were from Hell’s Kitchen and were served with a spicy chili jam. Delicious. For those of you unfamiliar with the curds, the first few bites are soft, crispy and delightful but similar to the Juicy Lucy if you wait too long they tend to get pretty damn chewy. Still edible but remember these are not from mozzarella cheese and change consistency.
Did they have cheese curds at the game?
What do you think?
By far one of the most popular food items.
So after a night of overeating incredibly unhealthy foods and consuming many, many local brews and bourbon shots it was time to rest up and prepare for the game.
With a healthy ballast from a lovely eggs benedict breakfast it was time to head to the stadium.
Since it was Autumn there was plenty of Fall foliage to look at. As a Californian this is always welcome since our two seasons consist of trees with green leaves and trees with no leaves. Here’s a lovely red oak.
As you near the stadium you will notice that it’s easy as shit to find since you just follow the people in purple jerseys. Getting back to the room is a different story but you’ll figure it out. As you approach you notice the 2 different surfaces to the stadium. There’s the reflective glass and a kind of “stealth” matte black.
For the record I did not see a single dead bird.
On the opposite side of the stadium you can get a better view of the matte black.
The architects built the stadium to show a “Nautical or sailing theme” meant to pay homage to the Vikings of legend. This is from outside the “Legacy” gate.
As we approached the security checkpoint we saw the unique “cantilevered door” opening to the stadium.
The doors swing open on game days allowing natural light and air to enter the stadium. It also makes for a badass entrance to the stadium where you walk through this massive opening and the entire stadium is laid out in front of you. It’s fucking insanely awesome.
Here’s a closer view of the doors. Enlarge this photo and you will see a couple of people way the fuck up on the top deck of the stadium. This should give you an idea of just how fucking big these doors are.
We arrived about an hour ahead of time so we had plenty of time to wander the stadium and check out the details. First impression of the concessions and restrooms were amazing. The Metrodome had very limited concessions that were so crowded they backed up onto the concourse making it difficult to get to your seats. The Met also had horrible restroom facilities which were few, far between and featured the 50 yard long “piss trough.” In all honesty I am definitely not a fan of the trough. I ain’t no goddamn animal, man!
The new stadium has essentially a restroom for EVERY SECTION. Plentiful pissoirs! The concessions are basically one long continuous line of food stand after food stand. Chef Anthony Zimmern, yes the dude that eats the disgusting shit on the Travel Channel, is a local and he had a few local selections and the other food options are as amazing as they are plentiful.
Plus, you know.
As mentioned before I had no need for the concessions or the restrooms after a solid breakfast – Noon local start remember – then discovering the “beef stick bloody mary” thing. Just wanted to mention that the concession and facilities are about 11.5 billion times better than the Metrodome.
One quick mention for you beer folks. Every concession stand offered beer along with their food choices but if you simply wanted a goddamn beer without hassling with the food stands? They had a beer vendor with a big ice chest of cold beers at the top of EVERY FUCKING AISLE!
Now it was time to head to our seats. How were the seats you ask?
Row 11 from the field. About the 12 yard line.
Close enough to identify the players as they warmed up.
And close enough to take action photos from the game like this.
I’ll have more game photos later when I do the “Vikings at the bye” bye week update later.
Here are a couple more interior shots to give you a sense of the size of this goddamn place. Look at the size of the HD screens.
The clear roof is an incredible feature. We were fully protected from the elements, bathed in natural sunlight and sitting in the sun while indoors.
The Vikings used a lot of thematic elements to ensure that everyone there knew they were the Vikings. They had a Game of Thrones inspired intro where former Vikings legends from the past including, Alan Page, Carl Eller, John Randle and Chris Doleman appeared on the video board saying “We are the North!” And they implored everyone to “Protect the North!” Which I thought was cool as fuck.
They even introduced the defense instead of the offense. This makes a lot of sense both for the “Protect the North” thing as well as they are bad motherfuckers who deserved to be introduced before the offense.
Here’s the player intro.
Before the game starts the Vikings and the fans have a “new” tradition of performing the SKOL Chant.
This isn’t always seen on the game broadcast since it happens previous to the National Anthem. It’s also a blatant ripoff of the Iceland men’s national soccer team chant. I didn’t give a shit because it was cool as FUCK! They also performed it again around the 2 minute warning in the game. Hell yes.
Fun announcement before the game: the people in Minnesota are ridiculously friendly and they announced to the stadium crowd to respect the visiting fans and treat them with respect because “We’re Vikings, not barbarians!”
Noise report! This fucker is LOUD!. The sound remains inside and it gets crazy loud in here. To be honest though? I think the Superdome in New Orleans gets a little louder. Maybe when they make the playoffs that will pick up.
One amazing thing about the game noise though, when the Vikings have the ball on offense?
No shit, you could mistake it for being in church or at a funeral. It is unbelievably quiet. Eerily quiet. When the team is on defense though, get the fuck out. When it’s third down, you bet your ass that opposition is going to a silent count.
How did the game turn out you ask?
Quite nicely thank you.
Final say! I fucking had a blast and I want to attend as many games at this venue as my life will allow. I’ve seen the Vikings play in many, many stadiums but there’s nothing like going to a game and being surrounded by your own team’s fans.
I’m one of us!
We took an extra day off this time to explore the city a little more and like a bunch of goddamn tourists we went to the Mall of America. It’s a little West of the airport on the blue line train in Bloomington on the very site where the Vikings used to play outdoors at Bloomington Stadium when I first became a Vikings fan.
Look they have an entire amusement park inside the mall!
Even a log ride!
What a fucking tourist.
I did buy my youngest granddaughter an officially licensed mini Vikings football at the official team store so there’s that on top of it.
Finally back to the room we then headed out to dinner at one of the best pizza places in the Twin Cities, Pizza Luce. Great pizza and some of the best wings I’ve EVER had.
Next day it was time to head home. We grabbed some breakfast, packed the bags and started to walk back to the train station for the ride to the airport when…
MOTHERFUCKER! With the wind blowing it was a real feel of…27 degrees. Twenty Fucking Seven! They had snow in Minneapolis 3 days after we left. The real fun part was after an easy flight back to LA we landed at LAX, stepped off the plane, exited the airport and it was…105! One hundred and fucking five!
Remember the first game of the World Series in LA? Yeah that was the day we came back. I’m still trying to recover.
In summation, this is an incredible stadium in a super friendly and accessible downtown and it will do just fine hosting the Superb Owl this year. Gonna be one cold motherfucker outside though.