Tailgating is a football tradition across the NFL. Fans arrive to the field hours before kickoff and indulge themselves in barbecue and beverages. It’s a time for them to hang out and meet other fans while also getting excited for the game they are about to watch. The party may even continue afterwards, depending on how the game goes.
Fans of the Minnesota Vikings have been partaking in the tradition of tailgating since the team’s first season back in 1961, where they would fill the parking lots of Metropolitan Stadium. That tradition then got moved to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and then to TCF Bank Stadium.
The Vikings organization is now hoping that their loyal fans continue the tailgating lifestyle at their new home, U.S. Bank Stadium.
“As many of you know, tailgating is an important tradition that the Vikings have honored since 1961,” Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Lester Bagley said. “It started back at the old Metropolitan Stadium, where the fans were in the parking lot before the games. They came early, they stayed late, and it began this tradition that is continued to this day.”
The Vikings organization has been thinking about the fans and their tailgating since they first proposed a bill to build a new stadium and keep the team in Minnesota. Tailgating was included in the term sheet for the development agreement and a lot of the battle and energy that the Vikings put forward through the whole process was devoted to making sure the tradition could continue.
The stadium bill passed in May of 2012 and the Vikings organization has been working with the city of Minneapolis, city leadership, neighborhoods surrounding the stadium and the community to work out a plan to incorporate tailgating since then.
U.S. Bank Stadium may sit in the same location the Metrodome did, but it is a lot larger, which means many of the flat lots have had to be removed. There have also been things such as the Downtown East Commons and the Medtronic Plaza that have been developed, which further cuts down on the usable area for tailgating, but the Vikings believe they have finally come up with a suitable plan.
“The game-day experience has obviously evolved with U.S. Bank Stadium, but there’s still a demand for traditional tailgating, so we believe that we’ve met that demand,” Bagley said. “This initial demand is more than 600 spaces will be available and our ticket office will be going out to those tailgaters that have tailgated in the past, also going to our season ticket owners and saying, ‘Here’s an opportunity to continue that tradition.’ There’s also an ability to expand if we need to, if it goes more than 600.”
The lots sit right on the north side of the stadium, but the tailgating zone is a much larger area (see video above). The zone, as it sits today, is different than it was when the Metrodome was in place and the new zone was passed by the city council just a few weeks ago.
The whole tailgating process is going to be fairly regulated, and it will be important for tailgaters and lot owners to know all that is being asked of them.
“So if you’re a tailgater, or if you’re a lot owner, there are very specific rules you have to live by,” Bagley explained. “You have to provide restrooms, cleanup and security, so it’s a very regulated process, but it’s also a time-honored tradition that we wanted to continue.”
Pregame activities are not being limited to tailgating, though. There is expected to be game-day activities out on the medical examiner property and possibly in the park, much like they used to have along Chicago Avenue when the Metrodome was the team’s home.