Old fans, new noise

An influx of Vikings fans gave campus-area restaurants and bars an extra bump in business with few problems.

Barry Lytton

NFL fans took over University of Minnesota neighborhoods Sunday, upping usual weekend commotion at Dinkytown and Stadium Village bars, as the Minnesota Vikings made TCF Bank Stadium its long-term crash pad.

The Vikings didn’t fare well in their hometown outing against the New England Patriots on Sunday, losing 30-7. But the loss didn’t stop a good share of NFL football fans from making their way to University of Minnesota neighborhood bars and businesses throughout the day.

Though business owners and police said they didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary, the mix of alcohol and a loss for the home team brought new noise to the University area.

Busier than a normal Sunday

In Stadium Village, hoards of Vikings fans drank in the fresh atmosphere, trading in the skyscrapers downtown for an open stadium and college-town feel.

“Can’t beat the sunshine on a fall day,” said Dave Richardson, a Vikings fan who was at Big Ten Restaurant and Bar on Sunday. “This sure gives the old folks something to remember.”

After renovations kept the bar’s doors closed for more than a year, Sally’s Saloon brought back business on Sunday at the intersection of Walnut Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southeast.

Even though the business’ storefront is still under construction, owner Brian Asmus threw a tailgate party outside.

While hamburgers sizzled on the grill and beer flowed, Asmus said he put the impromptu block party together in preparation for the Vikings crowd.

Down Washington Avenue Southeast, Campus Pizza and Pasta buzzed with the purple and yellow crowd. A Vikings jersey sporting former Gophers quarterback  MarQueis Gray’s jersey number peeked out through the sea of fans.

“It’s a lot busier than a normal Sunday,” said Dave Koch, Campus Pizza and Pasta’s general manager.

Campus Pizza and Pasta wasn’t the only campus-area location that noticed a rush. Stub and Herbs was so busy that the manager moved to the kitchen to help cook for the NFL devotees.

‘It’s just business as usual’

As its name suggests, Stadium Village may as well be in TCF Bank Stadium’s backyard. But Vikings spillover reached Dinkytown, too, with the team’s fans making their way to local watering holes.

A purple and yellow crowd settled down for beer and postgame entertainment at Blarney Pub and Grill at about 5:30 p.m. Peering up at the sizable television screens positioned above, the mass of people sipped their drinks and watched the Green Bay Packers struggle against the New York Jets.

Aside from purple and yellow replacing Minnesota’s maroon and gold, there were other differences between the Sunday and Saturday crowds — the Vikings brought an older mix of people than Gopher game days typically do, Blarney owner Mike Mulrooney said.

Mulrooney said he was very happy with the Vikings crowd, though a scuffle outside the bar briefly distracted him.

“It’s just business as usual,” he said. “It’s more than a normal Sunday, sure, but it’s a lot like Gopher games, [and] we are staffing it about the same as we do a Gopher crowd.”

Multiple local business owners echoed Mulrooney’s sentiment, saying it’s just a different arena.

“It is not a matter of reinventing the wheel,” Koch said.

On the law enforcement side, Minneapolis police sent additional officers to the area, but public information officer John Elder seemed undaunted before the weekend began.

“We dealt with Vikings games when they were at the dome,” Elder said.