Whether you’ve already drafted your fantasy team or you’re just a fair-weather fan, it won’t be long before you see people around here dressed in purple and gold with helmets with horns and yellow braids on their heads. Football season in Minnesota kicks off with the Vikings‘ first home game on September 14. The big news for some time around here has been the building of the team’s new stadium, but until that opens in 2016 the team will play on the turf at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the Gophers. There are some pluses to this move: the stadium has had $6.6 million in recent upgrades, including adding in heating coils under new turf and additional seating, the scoreboard is 10-times the size of the Metrodome’s, there are more points of entry, wider concourses, and more restrooms, elevators, and escalators. Downsides are that even with added seating there’s still more than 10,000 fewer seats, and parking is more limited. Here’s what else you need to know to prepare yourself for game days:
Transportation: There’s parking available, but it’s much more limited and expected to get quite conjested. Good news is public transportation can get you there. There will be free fan shuttles to and from the St. Paul fairgrounds, and bus routes 2, 3, 6, and 16 all will take you to the stadium. Plus, with the addition of the METRO Green Line, there’s now a stop—Stadium Village Station—that connects the stadium to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. You can also park in a Park and Ride along the Blue Line and then transfer to the Green Line.
Food: At the game there will be plenty to eat. From expected stadium foods to BBQ from Famous Dave’s, tamales, burritos and tacos at La Loma, and food like prime rib chili and bacon-wrapped hot dogs at Jax Café and garlic roast beef and cheesesteak sandwiches at Mayslack’s, you won’t go hungry. Plus, there’ll be local brews Summit EPA and Grain Belt Premium and Nordeast available, as well as Leinenkugel’s seasonal, Miller Lite, and red and white wine. If you want to eat or drink pre- or post-game, there’s options nearby. Within walking distance you have Big Ten Restaurant and Bar, Stub and Herb’s, The Library Bar, Loring Pasta Bar, and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Nearby: You’ll be in Stadium Village, which is home to a number of other Gopher sports teams, if you want to make it a sports-filled trip by catching another game. Watch the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Williams Arena, the men’s hockey team at Mariucci Arena, women’s hockey at Ridder Arena, or the football team on the Vikings’ off days at TCF Bank Stadium.
September 14 vs. New England Patriots
September 28 vs. Atlanta Falcons
October 12 vs. Detroit Lions
November 2 vs. Washington Redskins
November 23 vs. Green Bay Packers
November 30 vs. Carolina Panthers
December 7 vs. New York Jets
December 28 vs. Chicago Bears