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*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Stadium Inauguration

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That was fun!

We had a blast last night at the opening event in the new U.S. Bank Stadium, an International Champions Cup match between A.C. Milan and Chelsea F. C.

It was exciting to be at a soccer match between two powerhouse professional teams. It was exciting to be inside the brand new home stadium of the Minnesota Vikings. It was made more electric by being among 64,101 other equally giddy spectators.

IMG_iP1501eJHI’m sure it was also enhanced for me because I was with my peeps. I was with my family, and we were among a number of other special friends, whom we discovered by surprise. It even turned out that one of the match referees was a neighbor who grew up with our kids back in Eden Prairie.

We figured out a logistical improvement on the way to pick up Elysa, deciding to leave our car at her house and take the light rail train to the stadium. Julian would walk to meet us from his downtown apartment. This kept our parked car on the east side of the cities for what we hoped would be an easier departure away from the main congestion.

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The light rail trip over was a breeze. We met and visited with a nice guy who made it even more pleasant. The evening was hot and muggy, but both the train and the stadium offered air conditioning, so it was surprisingly comfortable. Disembarking the train put us smack into our first of multiple moments of crowd-herding.

Quite a few stadium staff had the ignoble responsibility of standing with tall signs commanding the direction they wanted the crowd to travel. Of course, many of us often had designs on getting somewhere other than where they wanted us.

The first up-close view of the building is impressive. Using phones to share our locations, Cyndie and Julian worked to bring him and the three of us together, but with a bit of lag time complicating the data, we found ourselves circling until we stopped  at a specific gate and he came to us.

DSCN4995eIn the mean time, we had walked against instructions, around barriers, and away from the crowds until we were all alone on what must be the back side of the venue.

The mood was very festive inside. We were plenty early, but already there were long lines forming for craft beers and some of the specialty food items. We opted for regular old stadium brats, pizza, cheese curds and fries, because the line was shorter.

That doesn’t mean the wait was shorter, though. They were barely able to make and serve the food fast enough to meet demand. As the evening wore on, I heard reports that some offerings had run out. I suppose that can happen when you sell out a venue of this magnitude on its opening event.

We ran into one complication while trying to locate our seats. There were no indications of our section. An usher informed me we were up a level and directed us to an escalator. I asked again at the top and was pointed in another direction. With still no signage indication sections, we came to what appeared to be a dead end with an entrance to a club.

I asked where I would find section C10 and an agent informed me that she didn’t know but was working on it. We paused our advance, armed with drinks and food, but no free hands to eat it. Back and forth the harried staff with ear pieces moved, trying to serve their guests. Finally, they figured out our seats, and sections starting with “C” were indeed inside that “club.”

Brilliant.

I suppose it might have helped if I had known what tickets we had purchased.

The game was excellently satisfying, with a variety of soccer action and goals. The main event passed by too fast and suddenly it was time to go home. With no clue on an escape plan, we followed the crowd to the first obvious exit door. That offered a second option down, so we took it. That choice merged with an equal sized mass of people coming up from beneath, quickly doubling the size of the mass.

The exit we were all funneling toward turned out to be a single-wide door into the main concourse. Bad option.

Next came the wait for a train. We went with the flow, mostly. Missing one important gate, we found ourselves on the wrong side from where we wanted to be and needed to walk back against the flow to get into the queue for trains going east. It took several trains and many minutes of waiting.

Julian texted us to report he was safe and sound after his walk home, while we were still in wait to reach the platform. Eventually, we got our turn and squeezed our way onto an already pretty full train.

Made it home well past our normal bedtime, after midnight, but happy as could be.

It’s a great stadium, it was a great soccer match, and it was a blast experiencing it with my wife and kids.

Now it is raining here, and I’m feeling like I could use a nap…

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Written by johnwhays

August 4, 2016 at 9:46 am

2 Responses

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  1. Are there really that many soccer fans in the area or were many of the people looking for a cheaper opportunity to experience the new stadium? It certainly is an impressive addition to the Minneapolis skyline; don’t know when or if I will be visiting. I much prefer football on TV and I’m having difficulties doing much walking these days.

    obsidcomm

    August 4, 2016 at 10:32 am

    • Yes, there really are that many soccer fans here, and more! What a wonderful collection of international cultures that gathered. At the same time, you are correct that some (though not the majority) were likely Vikings fans wanting to check it out.
      It seems like it will be a loud place when filled with raving NFL fans.
      Worth seeing once, if you ever get an opportunity, but you will be just as well served watching Vikes from home on TV.

      johnwhays

      August 4, 2016 at 10:41 am


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