‘A place we can call home’

The Vikings played their first regular-season game on campus, and many fans were glad to see NFL football outdoors in Minnesota once again.

Sam Kraemer

A sea of purple enveloped Dinkytown and Stadium Village on Sunday morning before the Minnesota Vikings played their first regular-season game at TCF Bank Stadium this year.

Lively tailgates surrounded the stadium. Throngs of cars lined University Avenue.

And once the game started, Vikings fans were treated to football outside — something they haven’t seen consistently since 1981, when the team moved into the Metrodome from their old outdoor venue at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn.

Fans seemed happy to watch NFL football in Minnesota outside again.

“We live up here,” said Marissa Landala, a fan in attendance on Sunday. “We might as well embrace the elements.”

Charles Lange, a 31-year-old fan, said although he was sad to see the Metrodome demolished, he arrived at TCF Bank Stadium six hours before kickoff and said he prefers the extra tailgating options at the on-campus stadium.

“I think this is what football up in Minnesota should be like,” avid fan Erik Rehwaldt said. “It seemed like there’s a lot more [tailgating] spots available here than at the Dome.”

While many Vikings fans enjoyed their team’s temporary stadium, they likely weren’t pleased with the product on the field.

Minnesota lost 30-7 to the New England Patriots as Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel threw four interceptions.

Despite the loss, Vikings defensive end Brian Robison appeared appreciative of the fan support Sunday.

“I thought they came out; I thought they were loud and supported us all the way through the game,” Robison said. “Our fans … have always been behind us. They’ve always made our home atmosphere a place we can call home.”

Vikings tight end MarQueis Gray played all four of his collegiate seasons for the Gophers and said he expected the atmosphere to be crazy.

“Other than the outcome of the game, it’s always great to be back home,” Gray said.

While Gray may have felt at home Sunday, the atmosphere resembled a traditional Vikings contest, not a Gophers game.

The notorious Viking horn was on the sidelines. Temporary Vikings banners hung throughout the venue, and the field was painted purple and gold.

Minnesota players even ran onto the outdoor field through thick wooden doors.

George Broshears, a 51-year-old fan at the game, said TCF Bank Stadium is a great venue for football, but it could be a little bigger for NFL games.

“College [football] is special. … There’s more pageantry with college,” he said. “I think the Vikings will have to build up the outdoor experience. I think the Gophers have already figured out how to do it well, while the Vikings are learning.”

While fans said they enjoyed being outside to watch the game, some acknowledged that their opinion could change when the frigid temperatures and snow arrives this winter.

“I guess we’ll have to bundle up then,” said 20-year-old fan Emily VanPratter.