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Official Review by Blake Benzel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
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.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
For the vast majority of the people that visit TCF Bank Stadium, you won't be surprised or disappointed by the food you get there. For the most part, it's going to be basic stadium food at prices that you would expect to pay when going to a Division I football game. The food you can find throughout the concourse varies from hot dogs (priced at around $4) to Domino's pizza ($5.50 for a personal-sized pie). You can also find snack stands in the concourse that sell popcorn, mini-donuts or spiced nuts (which is the most specialized food you'll find in the concourse).
If you purchase seats in the DQ Club section, however, you'll be able to find yourself with food that's a bit less ordinary, but also a bit more expensive. In the DQ Club section, they sell more "premium" sandwich baskets which range in price from $8-$10.50 and range in flavor from BBQ pulled pork sandwiches to buffalo chicken sliders to a Minnesota staple, the walleye sandwich. If sandwiches aren't your thing, you can find snack foods such as stuffed pretzels (pizza, jalapeno or cheese) for around $4.75, which is a pretty basic price for the less filling items on the menu in the DQ Club.
If you're lucky enough to be one of the people that gets into the Indoor Club, well, don't worry about spending your money on food as the University of Minnesota provides complimentary food for everyone on this level, and the food is pretty darn good up there too (though I don't know that I would say it's worth the cost of the ticket).
Going to TCF Bank Stadium, however, one must keep in mind that it is on the University of Minnesota campus and, as such, no alcohol is served on the premises, so if you want to wet your whistle with anything alcoholic, it's going to have to be at the restaurants and bars scattered around the area, or via a tailgate party.
It's a college football game, so you're going to get a college atmosphere. Even in a down season, the fans are both supportive of the team and vocal and rowdy (especially in the student section). There are various traditions that bring the fans into the game, such as joining in with the announcer to announce a Golden Gopher "First Down!" or spelling out Minnesota in one of the many chants fans engage in during the game.
In addition, you're at a college football game, so one of the big things you're going to look forward to is the marching band and the University of Minnesota's doesn't disappoint.
You're on campus when you're at the stadium, so the neighborhood is about as good as you're going to get in Minneapolis. Within a couple blocks of the stadium, there are 18 different restaurants, bars and coffee shops to enjoy some refreshments before or after the game ranging from Arby's to Chipotle to the more exotic foods like the Persian cuisine of the Caspian Bistro or the Asian cuisine of Hong Kong Noodle or Kowloon. Whatever your preference, you can certainly find it in the blocks surrounding the stadium and you can rest assured that the worst you might run into is a handful of rowdy, over-served college students.
Admittedly, the stadium wasn't entirely filled when I visited, whether it was because of the team (they were facing off against the University of Illinois, not necessarily the sexiest opponent of the Big Ten) or the weather (it was raining and the scoreboard said it was 39 degrees "" my opinion is that the scoreboard was lying to me), but the fans that were there were still great. The student section cheered on their team passionately and the rest of the fans in the stadium cheered with equal vigor. As with any Minnesota sports experience, you are met by the "Minnesota Nice" of most fans and most are more than happy to engage in conversation about the game, the team or whatever else might be considered polite conversation at a football game.
Again, you're on the University of Minnesota campus, so there's both ample parking and easy bus access. If you're going to park nearby, though, expect to pay. It's easier and quicker, but parking around the stadium is at least $20. Also, if you're driving on game day make sure you give yourself plenty of time, as the streets around the stadium can get a bit congested.
The single game tickets range from $35-$70 depending on the game and the team the Gophers are playing, but the experience is quite fun once you're there, and you're likely to see some good football in the process so the price is worth it. If you're a student, the tickets range from $15-$25, which is much more reasonable and is nice to see that the University wants to get as many of their students there as possible to create a great atmosphere.
There aren't many frills at TCF Bank Stadium. If you're looking for a football experience in the Twin Cities that has a lot of frills, the Vikings and Mall of America Field might be better for you. But what you'll get at TCF Bank Stadium is an experience that stems from a love of the game and a love of the University. It might not be for everyone, but it is an enjoyable experience nonetheless. The staff is very helpful and friendly and the concourse is dotted with merchandise booths where you can purchase your Golden Gopher gear. All-in-all, the Gopher's football field is a great stadium and the experience an enjoyable one.
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2418 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
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