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TCF Bank Stadium

Minneapolis, MN

Home of the Minnesota Vikings

3.6

N/A

TCF Bank Stadium (map it)
420 SE 23rd Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Minnesota Vikings website

TCF Bank Stadium website

Year Opened: 2009

Capacity: 52,525

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Temporary Cathedral of Football

The Minnesota Vikings are homeless for two NFL seasons as a new stadium is built at the site of the now-demolished Metrodome. Fortunately, the city's college team is able to provide temporary accommodations at the wonderful TCF Bank Stadium, itself a relatively new addition to the Minneapolis sports scene. Opened in 2009, the small and cozy venue is perfectly suited for the college game but slightly lacking when the pros are in the house, as it is the smallest NFL stadium by capacity. The stadium does house the largest home dressing room in both the pro and college ranks.

This is not the first time the Vikings have played here either, when the roof of the Metrodome collapsed in late 2010, they played a game here against the Chicago Bears, the last game in Brett Favre's career.

3.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

There are some very interesting food options available at TCF Bank Stadium, pretty much the same as when the Golden Gophers play with one notable difference - prices are higher. My recommendation is to check out the portable stands at the open end of the stadium, behind the temporary seating. Dave's BBQ offers Burnt Ends for $9, which are a good way to warm up on a chilly morning (games usually start at noon here). Next to that is Jax Cafe, where a cup of chili runs $8 (it is $6 for the college contest) while a steak sandwich (really just a Philly cheesesteak) is a tad overpriced at $12.

Along the single concourse that wraps around the stadium are many concession stands with differing options. Try Nayslacks, where a Mustang Chicken Wrap is $7.50, while $6 will get you a bread bowl filled with stew, although it is more bread than stew. Walleye Fingers are another Minnesota specialty that are worth trying at $7.

A portable stand near midfield offers gyros that smell very enticing and draw a sizable lineup throughout the game. Of course, typical stadium fare is widely available, including hot dogs, popcorn, pizza, nachos, and pretzels but I'd stick with the specialty items such as calzones, which can also be found at the pizza stands. There are very few lineups, particularly before the game, as the number of concessions matches the crowd very well. As always, spend a few minutes to wander the concourse before choosing.

Beer is sold in cans ($8.50) and draft and you can enjoy something other than Bud Light, which is available at every other NFL stadium. The swill on offer is Miller Lite, but try local brew Grain Belt for a change of pace.

Coca-Cola products are available in bottle or fountain form. There is a designated driver program near the southwest stairs that offers a full bottle of soda or water just for pledging not to drink alcohol, and will save you $4.50, a good value for one minute of your time. If you prefer the fountain, souvenir soda is $6.50.

You should have no problem finding something to enjoy here, but it's unfortunate that the prices are higher for the Vikings game than for the college game.

Atmosphere    3

The Vikings have retained their unique take on the NFL game with the Gjallarhorn (a large horn that is displayed on the sideline and played by a special guest during the game) and other Viking-related displays. The horn is removed from the field during the game but a recording is sounded after big plays. As well, the Skol, Vikings song is played after each Minnesota score. Viktor the Viking is the mascot who does little other than run around.

Beyond this though, the team is limited in what it can do during the game. There are cheerleaders of course, and a drum line that sits behind the north end zone (where the college band usually resides). The breaks in the action are typically filled with announcements and promotions, but nothing particularly special. You can expect more complete experience when the Vikings move into their new home in 2016.

Neighborhood    4

TCF Bank Stadium is located on the campus of the University of Minnesota, across the street from Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena. This means there are a lot of nearby restaurants and bars that cater to the student crowd. The enjoyable Big 10 Sports Bar on Washington Avenue is a good place for a pregame meal, where tall boys of PBR are just $3.75. They run a sub shop there as well, so that makes for a good option before or after the game. Stub and Herb's is nearby and their claim to fame is the Juicy Lucy, a Minneapolis burger tradition in which the patty encases a slice of cheese.

Post game, Buffalo Wild Wings is very popular and thus quite crowded. During the game they remove tables from the bar area to make it a Standing Room Only affair and it remains like that for several hours afterwards. This is a great place to meet locals if you are visiting as everyone mingles, but offerings here are exactly what you would get at any other location.

Fans    4

Vikings fans are probably the best behaved in the league. There is a term "Minnesota Nice" and it certainly is on display here. Visiting fans are not harassed with any venom, and despite the home team playing poorly for the entire game during my most recent visit, there wasn't the chorus of boos you would expect.

Still, there are too many empty seats despite it being a beautiful Sunday against a division rival with Teddy Bridgewater making his 2nd career start. I would expect a sellout and a raucous environment, but it seems like most fans are content to just sit back and watch. Again, a new stadium should result in more fans and more excitement.

Access    4

There are several lots nearby but they are not cheap. The tailgating lot is known as the Gateway lot and is $40 prepaid. Get there early as tailgaters take up multiple spots themselves, and it can be difficult to navigate even at 9 am. Those on a budget can find free street parking a few blocks away.

However, I strongly recommend taking the new Green Line to Stadium Village station, which is just a two minute walk from the gridiron. Lines to board the train after the game can be long, but if you stop by one of the aforementioned bars for a beer or two, you should have no problems getting back to downtown Minneapolis for your evening explorations.

Inside, the concourse is more than spacious enough for the crowd and all seats are accessible before the game. Washrooms are plentiful and you shouldn't expect any outrageous lines.

Return on Investment    4

The stadium is relatively small, seating 52,525, and with no suites separating the upper and lower bowls, there are no bad seats in the place. The corners on both levels are benches with no seatbacks, as are the east end zone seats. The west end zone is temporary seating necessitated by the Vikings, with the large scoreboard just above. The sideline sections are equipped with box seats which come with cup holders.

Tickets vary from $66 in the upper end zone to $150 for lower midfield (this doesn't include the club seats). The concourse has a full view of the field so many fans spend the game standing along there.

Extras    2

As this is a temporary home, there is no Vikings history on display. Naturally, many of the extras belong to the Golden Gophers, such as the posters detailing the success of the various athletics teams over the years, a Hall of Fame dedicated to the 25 college athletic programs, and the gold seats that contrast with the maroon ones to spell "Minnesota" and "M" on both sides of the stadium.

One extra point for the Vikings entrance, in which the team is hidden behind a large gate while men dressed in traditional Viking garb stand guard and the Gjallarhorn that sounds before every game.

All 87 Minnesota counties are honored by being cast in a stone that is inlaid in the bricks. It is actually quite an impressive sight as you walk around the exterior. The west entrance is marked by the Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza, named in honor of the 11 American Indian nations in Minnesota and featuring eleven 18-foot-tall poles. Inside you will find the Veterans Tribute on the open end of the horseshoe. All of these contribute to the aesthetic beauty of this stadium, one of the nicest I have seen and which merits another point.

Final Thoughts

You have fewer than two seasons to see the Vikings play here, and I do recommend that you try to make it. The ideal situation is to find a weekend in which both the Gophers and Vikings play on the same weekend; that only happened once in 2014, so you'll have to wait until 2015 to see if it can be accomplished again.

It is interesting to compare the two experiences. No doubt the stadium is better suited to the college game, but if you want to see an outdoor NFL game in Minneapolis, you best get a move on before the Vikings return to an indoor venue in 2016.

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Local Food & Drink

Big 10 Restaurant  (map it!)

606 Washington Ave SE

Minneapolis, MN 55414

(612) 378-0467

http://big10restaurant.com/

Stub and Herb’s  (map it!)

227 SE Oak St

Minneapolis, MN 55455

(612) 379-0555

http://www.stubandherbsbar.com/

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