An NFL week six matchup pitted the reeling Detroit Lions (How long can the losing streak continue?) against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings and I was in town to see it first hand. I bought my tickets for the game through TicketCity.com and with a couple friends in tow; we drove from Detroit to Minneapolis to see a game in my twenty-second stadium on the Quest for 31. A ten hour drive separated us from our destination, but once we arrived we were ready for some football. Spending the night in the Hyatt Regency downtown, we had easy access to the Minneapolis bar scene and spent the evening drinking local brews and catching up with fans.
Sunday morning our day began at 8:00AM as we headed for the Purple Lots adjacent to the Metrodome. I quickly discovered that when Minnesota Vikings fans tailgate, they do so in style. Most Vikings fans drove to the game in modified delivery trucks, RV's and panel vans that were converted into the ultimate in tailgating cruisers. These vehicles were decked out in purple and gold with Viking symbols and all the necessary tailgating amenities, but one in particular stood out among the rest. The Minnesota Vikings Battle Wagon is an exceptional piece of tailgating paraphernalia. This converted delivery truck sports Viking horns on the front and has a great professional paint job, but its interior is what separates it from the pack. The wood paneled walls and astro turf floor are decorated with all types of Viking artifacts such as Bryant McKinnie's size 18 shoe, but the Battle wagon's claim to fame is the working gas fireplace that keeps these tailgaters warm during the coldest of Minnesota Sundays. Hanging out with these consummate professionals, I met up with several recognizable Viking fans such as Ragnar, the official Viking mascot and Syd Davy 100% Cheese Free, the man with the massive arms that used to hoist Randy Moss into the stands after Vikings touchdowns.
For visitors to the Metrodome, if you're looking for the best tailgating in town, it can be found in the Purple lots next to the stadium. Viking fans are extremely friendly and approachable and love to have a good time. Curiously enough very few tailgaters are out there barbecuing on Sundays. I was told that when Viking fans go to the stadium for a game, they go to drink. Eating apparently just gets in the way. So following suit with local tradition, I tried several of the beers that are brewed in Minnesota ... a most impressive selection.
As gametime approached, we headed to the dome. My only regret in all this is that we weren't able to secure any of those great Viking helmets before gametime. I would have really like to go into the Metrodome with a set of Viking horns on my head. The Metrodome is an older stadium, but unlike many dual-use facilities it's primary purpose is football games, so the stadium seating is arranged in a coliseum oval rather than the traditional wagon wheel arrangement used for baseball. The concessions are fair, nothing special, but adequate, and every seat is a great one. The game itself was a yawn-fest for the first half as scoring was limited and neither team was producing much on the offensive side of the ball. The Detroit Lions actually led for much of the game, but Minnesota found a way to crawl back into the contest posting a 12 -10 win by kicking a last second field goal as time expired. The bottom line? Great Facility, Great Fans, boring game, but if you're interested in checking out more of my adventures as I Quest to thirty-one stadiums in the National Football League. Feel free to check out www.nflfootballstadiums.com/Metrodome.htm.
- Hans Steiniger for TicketCity.com