Tailgating Changes

- wadE

In my 6 years as a season ticket holder for the Minnesota Vikings, the most fun I've had has always been in the tailgating lot. The whole reason I bought tickets was because one year I started going to the parking lots along Washington Avenue with friends to experience this new phenomenon of "tailgating".

It may be hard to remember, but 7 years ago...there was no tailgating. Not since good ol' Metropolitan Stadium had a person been able to park outside the stadium, grill up a brat or a burger, drink copious amounts of alcohol, and then wander...er, stumble into the stadium.

Attendance and enthusiasm throughout the late 80's and 90's waned with sub-par seasons, which led to fan apathy and local blackouts.

With new ownership, Red "Purple Pride" McCombs, the team looked to revitalize the fan base with tailgating being a big part of that. Since the Metrodome is surrounded by buildings and lots owned by the Star & Tribune, tailgating was relegated to huge expanse of sandy lots a couple blocks away. But you could still see the dome, and if you were in the lot during a game you could hear the dome from there too.

And believe it or not, it was great...in fact, I need to devote a whole article to my misadventures. But what I'm writing about today is the demise of tailgating. Not completely, but with renewed interest in the waterfront and old mill areas (which just happen to be where the tailgating lots were located) the space is no longer available.

As a "solution" the Vikings have found a new lot for tailgating. Just a mere 12 blocks away...



As many of you are aware, the availability of surface lots for legalized tailgating in downtown Minneapolis near the Metrodome is dwindling with each respective year. Based upon new construction projects, virtually all large lots located along the Washington Avenue area have recently been eliminated.

With this challenge, we have been working diligently to create a solution for our fans to continue the great tradition of tailgating before our home games. The resulting solution is our official tailgating area being relocated to Rapid Park approved with the August 14th pre-season game pending final approval for the remainder of the season by the Minneapolis City Council on August 20th. Rapid Park is located behind the Target Center and includes over 1,400 parking spaces (see directions on below).

This new "tailgating headquarters" will include the following amenities:

Live bands and entertainment via Clear Channel Entertainment
Vikings Cheerleaders and Ragnar appearances
Portable restrooms
Garbage and Charcoal receptacles
Promotional offers from Warehouse District businesses
Tailgaters will have access to and from Metrodome via:

  • Metro Transit "express" shuttle buses
  • Light Rail Train at the Warehouse District station two blocks from Rapid Park entrance - $.50 each way
  • Metro Transit standard buses via transit station adjacent to Rapid Park - normal charge

You can purchase a parking space for $15 on a game-by-game basis when you arrive at Rapid Park (based upon availability). If you have any tailgating or parking questions, feel free to contact Rapid Park at 612/332-4735.

Once again, thank you for your loyalty to the Vikings. We appreciate your understanding with these challenging circumstances and look forward to having you join us at Rapid Park, starting with our first pre-season game on August 14th, for what looks to be a very successful 2004 season!

Rapid Park
600 3rd Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

Sounds reasonable right? Until you realize this lot over a mile away!!! Check here, and click southeast twice to see how far it is.

Does it make sense that the tailgating lot is closer to the basketball arena than the football stadium?

The charges were starting to get out of hand to park on the lots on Washington Ave, nearly $30, so charging $15 seems like a bargain; and there's going to be all this extra stuff, right?

Well the old lot had cheerleaders occasionally drive through. Ragnar also showed up from time to time. There were port-a-potties...although never enough. And eventually the radio stations figured out that tailgating was the place to be, so there was plenty free music, although now we are going to have live bands courtesy of Clear Channel Entertainment...I'm sure that's going to be great!

Plus we get the privilege of using public transportation to get to the game, or waiting in line for a shuttle bus. I'm sure that's going to go over really well in December and January.

Think about it. People aren't tailgating to see bands. If you want to see bands there is a stage on the Metrodome Plaza where you can pay stadium prices for food and drinks.

It just doesn't seem right to tailgate someplace where you can't even see the stadium. At that rate, you might as well tailgate in your own driveway and take the bus to the dome.

Some time this year I'll visit the new tailgating lot and give a full report, but I think we can both agree that this plan is wearing a brand new pair of Bad Idea Jeans.



I got a chance to stop by the new tailgate lot before the last home pre-season game. While I understand it was preseason, in years past, the lots were quite busy and festive, since it's a great excuse to party outside in the (normally) nice August weather.

The game was on a Friday, so that may have been why the lot had a fair amount of cars, but very few people tailgating. And there was no live music to be seen. Twelve blocks away on the plaza outside the dome, there were hundreds, if not over a thousand people enjoying the live music and the stadium priced food and beer.

I'll be attending the first game of the year (Sunday September 12th), and will attempt to get an update on how tailgating for a real game goes.

Stay tuned...

Check here for the latest.

- 09/08/2004

So I checked out the tailgating scene before yesterday's game against the Bears. There were a lot more people there than the preseason game. They did have live music... what appeared to be a Billy Joel cover band. Dancing in front of the band was about two dozen women dressed in purple wigs and matching yellow shirts that said ViQueens on them. What disturbed me most is when they started doing a chorographed dance to "You May Be Right".


Otherwise it seemed to be business as usual for the tailgaters. There were many chunks of empty parking spots that never would have happened in the old lot, but all in all, if you really wanted to tailgate, this is your only choice, and it's not that bad. Turned out some friends were tailgating there and I missed them. They had a good time, although they were concerned about how long it would take to get back to their cars after the game. The other downside that in the winter we used to leave out coats in the cars, and run the two blocks to the dome... not a possiblity now. So, we'll see how this goes.

As for the Vikings. They beat the Bears, but didn't look good doing it. At this point, this isn't a Super Bowl team. They are a playoff team, but that's it.

- 09/27/2004


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