The Frogs traveled to beautiful Minneapolis to kick off their season against the Golden Gophers. I was fortunate to get to make the trip to Minnesota, and here's the low down on what went down downtown.
Where: Minneapolis, MN
Population: 382, 578
Nickname: (one half of) The Twin Cities
Points of Interest: There are more Fortune 500 companies per capita in Minneapolis than any other city in the world. Home to Target, U.S Bancorp, Ameriprise, and many others, downtown is a maze of corporations and picturesque skyscrapers. With a very diverse population, the city also has a vibrant and thriving arts and culture scene.
Pro Teams: Home to the Wild (NHL), the Twins (MLB), the Vikings (NFL) and one of basketball's most exciting teams - the Timberwolves (NBA), Minneapolis-St. Paul has an awesome professional sports scene. In fact, there are six spectator stadiums within a 1.2 mile radius downtown; the Target Center (home of the Wolves), Target Field (home of the Twins), the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena, TCF Bank Stadium, and the soon to be completed U. S. Bank Stadium - future home of the Vikings. Target Field is impressive; I attended a game there Thursday afternoon, and the facility is top notch. The city is also home to the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx and MLS's United FC.
Have to Try...: The Bloody Mary Bar at Hell's Kitchen, Reese's Puffs Cereal (the city is home to General Mills and the cereal is everywhere), the State Fair - rivals ours here in Texas, apparently, Hot Dish - a signature Minnesota specialty, and the Jucy Lucy - a hamburger stuffed with cheese. Also, if you hit up a Twins game, do yourself a favor and get the 60/40 bacon burger at Red Cow concessions.
The Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009, and still has that new stadium glow about it. With a capacity of just over 52,000 - but the ability to expand to 80,000 down the line - the temporary home of the Vikings gets pretty loud. There is also this, which I love. The stadium itself, as well as the flow both inside and out, leave something to be desired. Lines are impossible long, walkways are impossibly crowded, and God-forbid you need to take public transportation to leave afterwards, because the ticket line was about 5,000 deep. They do sell beer, but if you are hoping to get one, be prepared to miss most of a quarter while you wait in line. The selection near the visiting fan section wasn't anything to write home about, but I didn't go looking for more - trying to swim upstream against the crowd wasn't worth it. The food was ok; again, I didn't venture out of my section, but the brats were solid, the cheese curds are worth a try, and the fries were pretty good for ballpark fries. We were seated in front of the larger video screen, so I didn't really get to enjoy that, but there was a screen in the opposite end zone, similar to what we have at TCU. One other minor complaint is the lack of cell service in the stadium and surrounding areas. I'm not there to be on my phone the whole game, but being unable to sent tweets or texts was a bit of a nuisance. The fans are impossibly nice for the most part, but like anywhere, there were a few obnoxious people who took a little too much advantage of the beer sales apparently. I of course was seated next to one such offender, but even he apologized for being annoying
The Scene: Tailgating at TCF is pretty solid, but not quite what I am used to seeing around the rest of the Big 12. I didn't get to walk all the way around though, so I might have missed the bigger scenes. But, the people are nice, the beer is plentiful, and you are liable to get invited to a cornhole game or to grab a bite with strangers that will become friends in short order. And, even as out-numbered as we were in our purple, no one said anything to me other than welcome. I was disappointed with how many fans cleared out with the Gophers down two scores wit about ten minutes left in the fourth... it got really quiet and the game was not over. When they scored to get within six with several minutes to go, about 25% of the Gopher fans had already bailed. Biggest opening game in decades... you have to keep your butts in the seats, friends (we speak from experience, the Frog fans have struggled with this before, too).
Traditions/What Makes Them Weird: All college football fans are weird, so I consider it a good thing. First of all, I don't think there is a fan base more loyal to their coach than Minny is to Jerry Kill. They call their little sector of the world JerrySota, and his name is emblazoned on all kinds of t-shirts and flags. They LOVE that man. Also, you are more like to hear "Who hates Iowa? We hate Iowa" than any smack about the team they are playing - unless, of course, the opponent is Iowa. The band was great, but didn't play much during the game, it seemed. The student section wears a lot of overalls
Would I Go Back: The lines were annoying - I waited 25 minutes to get in, 20 more to get food, and trying to move around anywhere inside the stadium or the parking lots was a struggle. It makes me thankful for the plentiful entrance gates and breezy pathways of ACGS. But the people were wonderful, the stadium was rocking, the student section was perfectly obnoxious, and the city is beautiful. There is a ton to do within walking distance downtown, and the pro sports facilities are top notch. Patterson and Kill both said after the game they don't ever want to play each other again, and I can't blame them; but what a fun home and home series. I would highly recommend making the trip to the Twin Cities if the opportunity arises in the future!