Brandon Barton's Wordpress Blog

Enjoying Semi-Retirement by Keeping Up With the Kids Online.

Recommended post: Soccer And Stadium Big Time Fun Time by Sank

Well, I found my way into the new Vikings Stadium last night (US Bank Field) . If you’ve read this space over the years you know was a huge opponent of using tax dollars to pay for the stadium, and I still am. But hey, since I’ve already paid almost $100.00 from my personal tax dollars, I figured I might as well check it out.

Mrs S and I paid big bucks to see a practice game between couple European soccer powerhouses. On a side note, there’s a whole ‘nuther story about that money grab. (Thanks to a coworker who hipped me to all that nonsense)

Soccer. Football. European Football. The Beautiful Game.. Call it what you want, it’s on the rise here in the good old USA. I still find it sort of odd. Backward game timers, games that end, well, honestly I’m not quite sure how they figure out when they end. I suspect it has something to do with the flight status for the refs. Then my favorite part of the game, perfectly healthy players who spontaneously collapse on the field grabbing ankles or knees despite having no one around them. They roll around looking like they’re in so much pain that you wonder if they’re even going to survive the next 10 minutes, only to pop up perfectly healthy when the ref delivers the yellow or red card.

Truth be told I once coached the beautiful game and have attended more than my share of high school games (3 actually which is 2 more than my share). The game I saw last night was nothing like soccer match I’d ever seen, it was actually really good. Incredible ball handling, actual strategy that was way past the “follow the ball around the field” strategy I see here. Even Mrs S looked up from her smartphone once in a while. It was a good time and I get why the game is popular.

The New Stadium

The venue is spectacular. Probably not a bad seat in the house. Not that I’d know, I was in the lower bowl in row 20. My seats were particularly fantastic.

Announced attendance at the game was something around 65K. A sell out as far as I could tell. Of the attendees 64,900 were hard core Chelsea fans. By hard core I mean fans with a long history of supporting the Blues, in most cases a tradition of support that goes all the way back to early summer! And 99.9% were enthusiastic. The lady next me however, not so much. She was my back up date as my son decided to book a trip to Israel after I purchased the tickets and therefore was filling in. She doesn’t like crowds so much, doesn’t like public transportation  (more on that later) and doesn’t watch soccer. Thank goodness for smartphones.

The event was announced as the largest crowd to ever see a soccer match in Minnesota. I’m sure it was. It was also the largest gathering of pretentious millennial hipsters in one place in Minnesota. Ever! Even bigger than Friday Nights at Surly Brewing.

My favorite overhead conversation of the evening (and perhaps all of 2016). Our section was 99% Chelsea jerseys and one AC Milan Jersey. Nice kid, obligatory beard and horn rim glasses. Based on his accent I don’t think he was actually from Milan, probably couldn’t find Milan on a map, but on this night, he was a passionate fan. Of course his credibility would go up if he could pronounce Italian names correctly but I digress.

At the end of our row were a couple extremely die hard Chelsea fans, also in beards and horn rim glasses. These two decided to stand the whole game, which might be the thing to do at Stamford Bridge, but here in Minnesota, when you’re the only two doing so, it’s a little obnoxious. But not nearly as obnoxious as chanting “Here we go Chelsea, here we go”. You know the chant.

Mr Milan after 8 beers about 45 minutes of this, looked down the aisle, across 7 blue Chelsea jerseys, and yell at them to “Shut the hell up”.

Hmmm this is certainly going to be more interesting then the game match.

The woman next to him “Let them cheer”. Ooo Game On NOW! I love a free floor show.

Banter back and forth, highlight was:

Milan “That’s so American, they sound like dumb Americans”.

Lady “um.. we’re in America, they’re American’s.” and so on. Finally Milan threw up his hands and let us know what his real problem was:  “This is a EUROPOEAN sport, and they are ruining it.”

Gawd I love arguing with drunks, better than the phone company.

Well, I ain’t gonna miss this, so I tagged into the match and chimed in, in a very helpful way “you know”, left the “jackass” part out in deference to Mrs S who had already complained about my language that evening, “Last I checked those dudes paid ‘American’ dollars for their seat, they can yell whatever they want”.

Put that in your Scooby snack Mr Shaggy wannabe! His beard was a little light, even for a millennial.

After that exchange, and second Chelsea goal, I figured we could call it an “experience” and we bolted.

But how was the stadium you ask?

Here’s the my review of the venue:

Pros:

  • Can’t deny gorgeous. The sun coming through roof was spectacular. For football, (gringo football) it’s going to be fantastic.Really fantastic.
  • Not bad view in the place, there are no obstructed seats anywhere. Well maybe around the giant Viking horn up on the second deck but that’s it.
  • Scoreboards are spectacular, and unlike the Cowboys monstrosity, they’re neatly tucked into the end zones. No massive house sized thing-a-bob hanging from the ceiling. Which also means no punter will ever hit the roof in that place. Which is good.
  • Skyway connection is very nice. And easy to navigate.

Cons:

  • Concourse Congestion. When you walk in the main gates, the first thing you see is the entire field from the end zone. And these days that means that the first thing literally every single person will do when they walk in, is stop for a selfie. The line for selfies was out the door, which caused traffic around the concourse to come to a massive halt.
  • Concession miss- The only and I mean ONLY concession item that was sold in the stands were Miller Lite tall boys. No food, no pop, no water, no Chelsea hats.. nothing. Just Miller Lite. Tall Boy. $9.25. Gets most vendors a .75 tip. While the price is objectionable, I’ve been to the Twins now so nothing surprises me in the stadium food game. What surprised me is that in a town with fantastic beer, the only offer in the stands was lightly flavored grain water.
    Millennials have a lot of things I can harp on them about, beer choices are not one. So, everyone who wanted a beer with beer taste had to get up and go to the concession stand which was, you guessed it, right where Selfie Park was happening, adding to the congestion.
    BTW Concession line, a mile long.
  • Men’s Room. A mile long line was short compared to the men’s room line. Frankly men are not a gender who are used to waiting to pee. As a matter of fact, when you make us wait, often alternatives are sought and nothing good happens when that happens. Women’s line, non-existent. My take, the bearded hipsters didn’t bring their opposite sex dates to the match. Not sure what the dude to betty ratio will be at a Vikings game. At Metallica in two weeks, might have the same problem.
  • Light Rail. Getting to the game from scenic Bloomington was pretty easy. Getting home….
    OK the line for the train after the game… Holy smokes. It was MILES long. MILES.
    Seriously Met Transit- y’all knew about the game, you had docents at the inbound ticket hubs helping confused old farts like me by a ticket.  That’s was my first cuss words of the evening BTW, for despite my having purchased 1000’s tickets for the light rail in my  life, somehow it becomes impossible when people are trying to help. So embarrassing. Made me fill like checking into assisted living facility since obviously I can’t fend for myself anymore.
    Thing is, light rail works on the way in, as traffic inbound is staggered. But on the outbound, it’s pretty much a bum rush for the train when the match is over. Probably better than 10,000 folks took the train. My estimate comes from the size of the line waiting for the trains, I was 9,395th in line. Mrs S was 6th, another story there. Lets just say I had some serious frustration in my heart watching trains come and go and the line only moving inches, or rather centimeters for the soccer crowd. 45 minute wait. Unacceptable.
  • The Fans. Minnesota… sometimes it’s embarrassing to be from the Midwest. Last night it was at 4 minutes into the game when the stadium broke in to the Wave. *sigh* I swear to Gawd, it’s like it’s 1995 out here on the prairie. The damned place still has the new stadium smell and you’re acting like it’s the Metrodome. On national TV, hell on international TV. If it weren’t for tater-tot hot dish,  Bob Mold and fancy donuts, we’d be Nerd Central. Come on hipsters, what the heck, you know better. 
  • Finally and this is sort of serious, the Emergency Evacuation Plan. Before the game the scoreboard did an announcement to talk about a “plan” for evacuating the stadium in case of emergency. Video ran about 5 minutes I think. I think they need to revisit that video.
    • It was impossible to hear well enough to understand what the plan was.
    • It was specific down to the section level. But if you did find a way to hear it and really wanted to know where to go, you had to A) remember what section you were sitting in, not a big issue but still, and B) be able to frame a reference point with what the map on the screen showed. and triangulate with where you were sitting. And by the time that happened, they were on the next section, and I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to go. Which meant, everyone is going go to the closest door. Which if that’s the plan they were talking about, they don’t need the PSA.
    • I think it was confusing, hard to hear and in the end will not accomplish their goals. Felt like something someone wanted to check of a list.

 

So the Vikes have some things to work out. I think the big debut for them is in mid September. Not sure how to fix the concourse issue, me thinks that was a design that looked better on paper than in reality.

Filed under: Life

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