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Official Review by Jared Townsend, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers finally had their own venue for the gridiron. Beforehand, they'd shared a space with the NFL's Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. At a cost of just over $303 million, TCF Bank Stadium was designed to provide a real college football game day experience, despite the frigid cold of the Minnesota winters that can sometimes set in as early as October. Nonetheless, TCF Bank Stadium has achieved its purpose. It's college football at its best...even during the times of year when it serves as a frozen tundra of sorts. Upon visiting, former Golden Gophers quarterback Tony Dungy labeled it “unbelievable.” He wasn’t kidding.
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TCF Bank Stadium is without a doubt, not short on food options. From well known food vendors such as Domino's Pizza and Subway, all the way to Midwestern favorite BBQ joint Famous Dave's, there's something for everyone. Some of the more interesting food options include Dino's (gyro) and tamales from La Loma Tamales. Otherwise, you have your expected options: cheese curds ($6), hot dogs ($7), chicken tenders ($6.75), and walleye fingers & fries from Goldy's Grill.
And not to be outdone by Famous Dave's, another BBQ joint known as Jax BBQ offers unique options such as prime rib chili, clam chowder and Philly cheesesteak.
If you're looking for beer at TCF Bank Stadium, here's what you'll find: Grain Belt Nordeast, Grain Belt Premium, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Redd's, and Leinenkugel's.
The atmosphere is great. I was never able to attend a Gophers game at the old Metrodome, but surely it's an entirely different experience. College football just never feels right under a ceiling. Outside is better ...even if it's played during the extremely cold Minnesota winters.
Set on the University of Minnesota campus, there's plenty of room around the stadium to tailgate and hang outside before you head into the venue. The corridors are spacious, although can get crowded just before the start of the game.
Another benefit, meanwhile, is being able to see the Minneapolis skyline if you sit behind one of the end zones.
TCF Bank Stadium is situated on the University of Minnesota campus in an area known as Stadium Village. Nearby there's student housing, along with numerous eating options such as Buffalo Wild Wings (directly across from the stadium's main gate), the Big Ten Restaurant and Bar, and the very popular Stub and Herb's, a pub grub that offers burgers.
Just a bit further from Stadium Village, you'll find Dinkytown, which of course, has even more options for food. Dinkytown can be a great choice to find good eats, especially if the restaurants near Stadium Village are packed before kickoff...something that happens quite often.
Since taking over last season, head coach Tracy Claeys has done a good job keeping the team on the up and up. The fans are passionate, knowledgeable, and for the large part, focused on the gameplay. That's not to say the mood is too serious, however. TCF Bank Stadium features somewhat of a laid back atmosphere as well. Games are pretty well attended, with vacant seats here and there, but overall, the fans provide a positively energetic vibe.
Access by car can be tricky. Traffic is sometimes bad and parking can be pricey. While the stadium's surrounding space fails to provide adequate parking, Stadium Village does excel at something else: Providing easy access via the Metro Transit Green Line...a system that also connects to Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium.
Also available is the option of parking further away and taking the Metro Transit bus or Campus Connector. You can park at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul for just around $10 and bus your way in from there. Not only is this a good way to avoid traffic around Stadium Village, there's also somewhat of a tailgate scene in the parking lot.
You can find tickets on StubHub for as cheap as $21, or as expensive as $130 (the latter usually tends to be on the lower sideline). Whatever option you go with, it's hard to go wrong here. No matter where you are, the view is pretty good. Most of the seating is on bleachers, so if you come during the cold weather, you'll want to bring along a seat cushion to keep yourself from freezing.
Overall, it's a great game day experience for a relatively affordable price. Not only are you paying for what's going on down on the field, you're also paying to receive a great stadium atmosphere that really helps you get into the college game day mood.
For one thing, TCF Bank Stadium spotlights Goldy's Locker Room, a 2-story fan shop featuring all the University of Minnesota gear you could ever hope for. It's an impressive store, so much so that it's one you'd imagine could serve the NFL.
The inside of the stadium, meanwhile, is decorated with banners featuring images of players from the Golden Gophers' heyday, and there's no shortage of tables selling even more Gophers gear.
Also make sure to catch a glimpse of the team's famed mascot, Goldy the Gopher, who likes to ride a scooter around the field during the pre-game. Meanwhile, the Pride of Minnesota Marching Band without a doubt, puts on an impressive halftime show.
TCF Bank Stadium is the perfect college game day experience. Sure, it's not as wild as you'd experience in the large stadiums of the Southeastern Conference, but for the Midwest, it's one of the best times you'll have. If you're able, attend a game here when the Gophers play their largest rivals, such as the Wisconsin Badgers or the Iowa Hawkeyes and you'll come away impressed with the enthusiasm, the architecture, the stadium amenities, and so much more.
Member Review by bcbenzel
Amidst all of the tradition and luster of the Big Ten conference, the Minnesota Golden Gopher football team sometimes tends to get lost in the shuffle. With their new stadium and a new coach, however, people in the Twin Cities have started to give this team another look.
Member Review by Chorizo16 on Jul 09, 2013
Went to see the battle for the Paul Bunyan axe. Half the stadium was red. I loved it. Great atmosphere. The school's HOF was amazing.
Member Review by MarcusT on Oct 21, 2014
When the Minnesota Golden Gophers moved back on campus with the opening of TCF Bank Stadium in 2009, the stadium still had a new feel and the Gophers were still getting used to their new digs. Now, with a few upgrades and finding a comfort zone, Minnesota seems to have settled in nicely at the horseshoe-shaped building known as The Bank.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Oct 24, 2014
One of my favorite college stadiums, beautiful aesthetic, good fans, no hype, and excellent pre and post game bars and restaurants. All accessible by transit.
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