Itinerant Fan

U.S. Bank Stadium

After 31 seasons at the old Metrodome, the Minnesota Vikings pulled up stakes at the end of 2013 and temporarily relocated down the road to TCF Bank Stadium so that a new stadium could rise. More than two years later, they’re returning to downtown Minneapolis in style, and the swanky, technologically advanced new palace they’re moving into has really made it worth the wait.

U.S. Bank Stadium, built on the Metrodome’s footprint on the eastern edge of downtown, could very well set new standards for NFL stadiums in a few ways. It’s certainly a unique-looking building — some would say it resembles a giant ship of glass and steel — that manages to incorporate some of the best features of modern football venues while introducing some new creature comforts as well.

It’s quite likely that Vikings fans will warm to the new joint pretty quickly. Certainly the powers that be in the sports world recognize the stadium’s place on the venue chain, as the NFL has already awarded it a Super Bowl and the NCAA is bringing the Final Four to Minneapolis as well. But whether you want to visit for a major event or a regular-season Vikings tilt, U.S. Bank Stadium is a worthy addition to any traveling fan’s stadium list.

We certainly got the sense that it would be an epic experience as we visited the Vikings’ first-ever game at the new digs, a preseason game against the Chargers.

  •   The Approach

    If you’ve ever visited the old Metrodome, you need no directions to U.S. Bank Stadium — it’s in the same spot, along Chicago Avenue between 4th and 6th streets. But even for the uninitiated, it’s not difficult to find the place, as it sits on the east side of downtown not far from Interstate 35W as it runs toward the Mississippi River. For drivers on I-35W, 4th Street is the closest exit to the stadium, though it most likely will also be the most congested as kickoff approaches.

    Fans who would prefer not to drive can take advantage of the Twin Cities’ Metro Transit light rail system, which has a U.S. Bank Stadium stop right next door to the facility (along with the new venue, a large platform capable of handling gameday crowds was constructed, with a pedestrian bridge from the westbound platform to the stadium’s main plaza).

    You can use the Blue Line to get there from Bloomington and the Mall of America, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and southern Minneapolis; take the Green Line to get there from downtown St. Paul and the Midway District, as well as the University of Minnesota. (A word to travelers arriving at MSP on gamedays: Be mindful of how close to kickoff it is when you board the train, as Vikings fans boarding at the Mall of America can clog downtown-bound Blue Line trains).

    Many Vikings fans (and we do mean many, judging by the amount of pedestrians wearing some sort of purple clothing around downtown on gamedays) avoid the traffic mess around the stadium by parking somewhere within the downtown core and walking. Downtown Minneapolis has a seemingly endless supply of parking spaces thanks to the many office and retail structures. For spots in which you can set up tailgates, click here.

    A service called Parking Panda provides a great solution for those looking to remove the uncertainty from the parking experience. They allow you to reserve guaranteed parking spaces at lots and decks within easy walking distance of U.S. Bank Stadium. You can compare prices and locations of various parking options. Pay for a spot ahead of time, they’ll email you the parking pass, and you can drive to the game with peace of mind. Check out all of their options in the window below:

     
  •   The Build-Up

    Booking.com

    Despite U.S. Bank Stadium’s central location, you’ll have to walk at least a couple blocks away to find restaurants and/or bars. But after that, downtown Minneapolis is your oyster. You can find quite a few options along South Washington Avenue, two blocks to the north, including brewpubs, trendy Thai restaurants, chains and more. Check out one restaurant in particular, the Crooked Pint Ale House, if you’d like to try a Twin Cities specialty, the Juicy Lucy.

    Fanning farther out into downtown is certainly an option as well, as downtown Minneapolis is highly walkable. Look for restaurants and bars at Nicollet Mall or along Hennepin Avenue near the Target Center — many of downtown’s hotels are located in these areas as well. From there, you’re looking at about a 15-20 minute walk to U.S. Bank Stadium.

    If you’d rather not make that trek, the Vikings have you covered. Look for the “Vikings Village” on the west side of the stadium, adjacent to the light rail platform, for a bar and a team store (located in what has been branded the “Vikings Longhouse”), games, sponsor booths and more. It’s a difficult spot to miss for anyone walking to the stadium from the downtown core.

  •   The Ambiance

    It almost goes without saying at new, snazzy venues, but U.S. Bank Stadium is definitely worth arriving early and walking around to see everything the place has to offer, because there really is a lot.


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    Start by entering through the Legacy Gate on the west side (the stadium’s designers apparently planned for this to be the main gate, as they’ve set up dozens of turnstiles in one long row). This brings you inside through the large glass atrium that looks out over the downtown skyline, and into the main concourse where you can gaze at the vastness of the seating bowl, the field and the roof.

    Really, the roof, and the stadium’s unique architecture in general, is what sets U.S. Bank apart. A majority of it is covered by a transparent material known as ETFE, which allows sunlight to enter the stadium without needing a retractable roof. And indeed, the roof combined with the window panels on the stadium’s west side create an outdoor feel; for a noon Central time start, most of the field and the west stands were in the sunlight. Yet you’re in a climate-controlled environment, something fans will likely be grateful for once wintertime arrives in Minnesota.

    The seating bowl is vast but not so big that you feel too far away from the field if you’re sitting up in the nosebleeds. You can still see just about everything you need to, and thanks to the large videoscreens at each end (one hangs over the concourse on the west side), you can easily catch up to whatever you missed. Up high, you’ll also get a good look at the Gjallarhorn, the giant Viking horn that juts out from a room on the suite level and emits a very loud noise whenever the home team does something positive, like score a touchdown.

    The Vikings also went to great lengths to bring a wide variety of concessions options to the stadium — another good reason to take a walk around, especially if you’re hungry. From twists on the familiar (tater tot poutine with cheese curds and gravy) to interesting stadium fare (one booth called The Whisk serves “breakfast anytime” items) to the downright strange (bratwurst and cheese curd fried rice), the food menu at U.S. Bank is as eclectic as you’ll find at any sports venue. Minnesota celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern’s name is all over the joint, including at a stand dedicated to food from the renowned Minnesota State Fair. Most items are about as pricey as you’d expect from a stadium food stand, but many of them are definitely worth trying.

The Particulars

Home Teams
Minnesota Vikings

Address
900 S. 5th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Year Opened
2016

Capacity
66,200

Upcoming Events
All times local
Preseason: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, August 27, 2017
7:00 pm
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Preseason: Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings
Thursday, August 31, 2017
7:00 pm
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U2 with Beck
Friday, September 8, 2017
7:30 pm
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New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Monday, September 11, 2017
6:10 pm
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, September 24, 2017
12:00 pm
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