State’s best to come with Vikings stadium?

Minnesota has stepped up the stadium game significantly in the last decade-plus with great baseball and hockey venues. But the Vikings stadium could be the crown jewel with the extra money invested for fan amenities.

Minnesota has slowly but surely learned what it’s like to have professional level facilities.

When the state dragged its feet on building a stadium for the Twins (and their owners agreed to franchise suicide for the betterment of America’s Game), Hennepin County stepped up and helped fund a stadium that has been the envy of many baseball venues. The reviews from the national media that have never seen a game prior to this summer’s All-Star Game have been glowing.

Target Field has been widely hailed a showplace. It has an old-timey feel and a view of the Minneapolis skyline that has become part of Major League Baseball’s business model of clinging to its past like grim death. Mission accomplished.

TCF Bank Stadium in college terms doesn’t have a ton of seats because, let’s be honest, the Gophers haven’t been competitive enough to build an 80,000-seat stadium. It is what it is, but it has become is a destination venue for football fans wanting the outdoor experience.

The Xcel Energy Center is one of the pre-eminent hockey destinations in the country. Target Center, currently the ugly stepchild of Minnesota major sports venues, is undergoing a much-too-belated facelift – advancing it to Cougar Town status.

That’s the good news for Minnesota sports fans.

The better news is that the biggest and best is yet to come.

As everyone involved in the Vikings stadium project will attest, the improvements just keep on coming.

The latest is that a pedestrian footbridge with a cost of $8.7 million will connect the light rail line running adjacent to the stadium, giving those arriving easy access to the front doors. Between the Wilf family, the City of Minneapolis and the state’s contribution to the stadium project, not only are the Vikings going to have a state-of-the-art stadium, the area known as Downtown East is going to see an incredible facelift once the cranes go away and the project is completed.

After a history of building on the cheap and caring more about the bottom line than the quality of the facility and surrounding land, Minnesota would appear to finally have it right. The skyway system is now going to essentially connect the entire downtown Minneapolis area between Target Field to the west and the new Vikings stadium to the east. When there have been questions as to whether to eliminate something to keep the project under budget, the Wilfs have increased their contribution to the project.

Xcel Energy Center showed Minnesotans what an area should look like. Target Field proved what a baseball palace should look like. But, as the construction continues on the new Vikings stadium, it seems clear that the best is yet to come.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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