Vikings fans will have a lot of new experiences, starting Friday night, as they move to TCF Bank Stadium.
Tonight’s the night for the TCF Bank Stadium experience to begin. For fans heading to The Bank, there will be a new setting and some potential challenges.
There will be plenty of new things – some good, some not so good. The highlights:
Parking is going to be a challenge, especially on a Friday night following a work day. Tonight will be the only game in which there will be a conflict of that type – next week’s game will be on a Saturday night and all eight of the home regular season games will be on a Sunday afternoon.
Fans are being encouraged to take the Green Line, the light rail system that will run within a block of the stadium with a stop at the Vikings Village. A day pass for the Green Line is $6 and, after tonight, a six-hour event pass can be purchased for $4. Trains will run every 10-15 minutes.
Tailgating will return to the Vikings fans experience. Tailgating will be allowed in several designated parking lots, including the Discovery Lot, Gateway Lot, Ski-U-Mah lot, Victory Lots, East Bank lots C33, C37, C55, C56, C58 and C59 and West Bank lots S108 on the State Fairgrounds. Tailgating opens at 7 a.m. for noon games and 1 p.m. for the two preseason games.
Sight lines will be better because The Bank is a more intimate setting. For the well-heeled, there will be many more premium seats. While the number of lower bowl seats drops from 29,000 at the Metrodome to 22,000 at TCF Bank Stadium, the number of club seats spikes to 1,545 (up from 243 at the dome).
Lines at bathrooms, especially women’s bathrooms, were a nightmare at the Metrodome with long lines and significant delays getting in and out. There were only 30 public bathrooms in the Metrodome. There are almost four times as many at TCF Bank Stadium.
The sardine-like atmosphere in the concourses will be gone. The concourses at The Bank are more than twice as wide as the cow tunnels at the Metrodome were.
Oak Street on the U of M campus will be closed at 4 p.m. for the Vikings Fun Zone that will be similar to the pregame area around the Metrodome that offered food, games and entertainment.
It will likely be easier for fans to enter the game because The Bank has nine entry gates and 90 points of entry, significantly more than the six gates and 64 entry points at the Metrodome.
The scoreboard will show video that will be about 10 times the size of the scoreboard at the Metrodome. Fans who only attended Metrodome games have never seen a full-sized replay since the HD era began. That will change.
The security measures that were put in place last season will remain – which forbids purses and just about any bag larger than the palm of your hand to be brought into the stadium. Fans can bring items in a clear plastic bag and all fans will be checked at the gate and those who bring bags that are larger than a small clutch will be turned away.
There are going to be a lot of things that will be new for Vikings fans who got used to the routine at the Metrodome. There may be some early issues to deal with, but the Vikings are convinced that the fan experience is going to be improved over what fans are used to and will be the gateway to getting their lavish new stadium built.