This week we are writing about some of our favorite stadiums, and today it’s a stadium without a lot of history, but with a lot of potential.
Shiny and new
TCF Bank Stadium, located on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, opened in 2009 and is the newest stadium in the Big Ten Conference by nearly 50 years. The stadium has seating for 50,905 and is designed so that seating can be increased to 80,000 in the future if warranted. It takes the classic horseshoe shape, with the open end providing wonderful views of downtown Minneapolis. Most of the seating is in the lower bowl, with a smaller upper deck that extends around half of the stadium, from the press box, along one end zone and up the visitors sideline to the other end zone. If expanded, the size of the upper level would be increased, and it would extend on all three sides.
Did you know that Minnesota was a college football powerhouse and boasts seven National Championships? The Golden Gophers claimed National Championships in 1904, three-in-a-row in 1934-36, back-to-back in 1940-41, and most recently in 1960. They have also won the Big Ten Conference title 18 times. TCF Bank Stadium celebrates each of these champions with panels on the outside of the stadium. Also celebrated are the jersey numbers of five players that were retired, including Bronco Nagurski.
Built on a shoestring budget
It may seem hard to think of a $288 million stadium budget as penny-pinching but it is. It cost more than four times as much to build Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) in Arlington, Texas which opened the same year. You may wonder what amenities you give up by attending a game at TCF Bank Stadium and there are a few.
First and most notably, the stadium is an outdoor, purely open air stadium. Keep in mind that it gets cold in Minnesota in the fall — last year when the Golden Gophers hosted Wisconsin, the kickoff temperature was 18 degrees. It can also be hot early in the season, as it was 95 degrees when UNLV came to town. AT&T Stadium in a domed stadium with a roof and sidewalls that can be opened in good weather.
It is also a much smaller venue than AT&T Stadium which typically has seating for 80,000 fans for football and has held as many as 105,000 with some reconfiguration and utilizing standing-room-only tickets. There are a few other things, such as most of the seats at TCF Bank Stadium are metal bleachers without backs, while at AT&T Stadium in its standard configuration, every seat is an individual seat with a chairback. AT&T Field also boasts the amazing giant high definition video board that runs between the 20-yard lines, and there are more dining and drinking options at AT&T Field. The University of Minnesota also saved money behind the scenes. For example, hallways at TCF Bank Stadium are narrower and have a very utilitarian level of finish while everything at AT&T Stadium has custom tile, artwork and continually impresses.
It may sound like you give up a lot at TCF Bank Stadium, but the most important amenities are still there. The sightlines are excellent, and the smaller size ensures that every seat is close to the field. Aesthetically, the stadium looks great, and the view of downtown is outstanding.
Here come the Vikings
When the roof on the Metrodome, the former home of Golden Gopher football, collapsed in late 2010, the Vikings moved their scheduled Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears to TCF Bank Stadium. Now, the Metrodome has been demolished and a new stadium in under construction for the 2016 football season. In the meantime, the Vikings will play their home games at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014 and 2015. The Vikings are making some upgrades to bring the stadium up to NFL standards, such as installing heating coils underneath the turf.
While Vikings fans might miss the climate controlled interior of the Metrodome, I don’t think that they’ll miss anything else. The team that made TCF Bank Stadium did an outstanding job keeping costs down, while putting together an outstanding facility.
Tomorrow we’re heading south!