Minnesota Vikings Viktor mascot
Tailgating with Viktor, the Minnesota Vikings mascot

Minnesota Vikings fans homegating in 2020

Minnesota fans tailgating with Chewbacca
Social distancing doesn’t exist in tailgating.

Homegating. That’s a thing. I didn’t make it up. I saw it in a Hy-Vee ad and adopted it.

Anyone else got the NFL football tailgating blues? We’ve been Minnesota Vikings season ticket owners since my son was 5 years old. This year, 2020, would have been our 17th season attending Minnesota Vikings games in person. And we had (officially) tailgated outside the stadiums for 10 of those seasons – first at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, then at TCF Bank Stadium – home of the Minnesota Gophers football team – and then the beautiful U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened up in 2016.

We love our Minnesota Vikings – through the good, the bad and the ugly – from the 1998 15-1 season to the magical 2009 season with Brett Favre as the QB to the Minneapolis Miracle with Stefon Diggs.

I thought Diggs’ trade to the Buffalo Bills would be the lowest moment of the Minnesota Vikings season this year. Nope – 2020 said, “Let me hold your overpriced stadium beer – like indefinitely.”

“Let me hold your overpriced stadium beer – like indefinitely.”

The Year 2020

So while we’ll get to retain our status as Minnesota Vikings season ticket owners, we did return the full 2020 season tickets as it seemed unlikely U.S. Bank Stadium would see fans this year. And, if they do, it will be at reduced capacity. Honestly, we wouldn’t have attended anyway for a number of reasons.

Disappointed, but it’s really not that bad.


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Top 5 reasons why watching the Minnesota Vikings at home can be better than watching at U.S. Bank Stadium


Minnesota Vikings Gold Tailgating Lot Invoice
Ouch!

So while I’ll lament that I’ll be wearing my purple, cheering on the Vikes and doing the Skol chant at home this season, I’m grateful for our family’s good health. I’m in the cautious and diligent camp so am happy the national football league is taking safety precautions during this social-distancing era of the pandemic. Have you ever been to a Vikings game? The tailgating lots, lines at security, concessions and restrooms, the concourse and seats are packed full!

Here are the top 5 benefits of watching the Minnesota Vikings from home during the 2020 season.

1. Got a lot of money back!

NFL season tickets are an investment so it’s kind of a windfall when you get the money back into your account. It’s like Passing Go more than 100 times. And I can remind myself how much money I’m saving by not buying that $11 beer or $9 hot dog at every home Minnesota Vikings game.

2. Can sleep in because I don’t have to beat traffic.

Okay. Full disclosure: It’s not just the traffic that I wanted to beat. I have tailgating parking anxiety. It wasn’t so bad at the Metrodome because we had a lot of space to park. Vikings tailgating spaces got a little tighter at TCF Bank Stadium, but still manageable.

Tailgating at U.S.Bank Stadium
Minnesota Vikings fans tailgating in lot
Barely seating and standing room only in the U.S. Bank tailgating lot.

But then we get to the U.S. Bank Stadium tailgating lot. While I loved the energy from all the fans and the location of my (former) tailgating lot – right across from the Vikings stadium (critical during the winter months) – I was not a fan of parking in the Gold tailgating lot. It was so crowded with fans and narrow parking stalls with hardly any space between the rows.

One time a guy offered to park my SUV for me because I was doing such a bad job. I thought he worked there. Turned out he was a tailgater. And I think he may have been drinking. So probably not the wisest decision I’ve made at a Vikings game – nor was it the worst.

But I do have a win when it comes to parking at this Vikings tailgating lot. In 2017, my friend and I had to find a creative way to reach the Gold lot. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) shut down I-35 in both directions due to construction. Coming from the south metro, I-35 is the main drag into Minneapolis. Oh, and then they held the Minnesota Twin Cities Marathon that morning, which closed several other roads. And a Minnesota Twins home game was scheduled at Target Field – also in downtown Minneapolis. Needless to say, it was a crazy drive.

I honestly could not get there from here – no matter where I was. We could see where we wanted to go, but could not find an open road to the Vikings tailgating lot – at least not mine. Finally, we found an indirect way. We had to navigate through the Purple Lot (which is just on the other side of the Gold Lot – separated by a retaining wall and a really narrow pathway.

Fans in the Purple Tailgating lot were awesome as they moved tents, grills, chairs, people and guided me over a concrete berm of sorts and we finally made it to our assigned tailgating lot. As I started to unpack my vehicle, my friend reminded me we needed a drink first.

So last year we elected not to renew our tailgating season pass. Not because of parking issues, but because one of the very few Vikings tailgating lots was eliminated. You know what that means – tailgating lots were at a premium – costs went up and way too much for my budget (it would have been $95 to park at each Minnesota Vikings home game – and that’s if I went to the preseason games).

Taking the Vikings express bus

So we tried something different. We took the Vikings express bus in for only $5 each. It was so awesome. The Vikings express bus picked us up south of the river (that’s where traffic usually starts on I-35W), got dropped off just a few blocks away from U.S. Bank Stadium and got picked up in the same spot. No traffic. No parking. No worries. And free wi-fi.


Oh, and heat. Heated buses. Tailgating in Minnesota can get a little chilly and sometimes dangerously frigid. While I had a Vikings tent and a faithful space heater, the MinneSNOWta weather wasn’t always ideal for tailgating.

Boys playing a game in tailgating lot in the snow
Pre-tent and pre-heater tailgating in Minnesnowta

Tailgating tip: You can walk through the tailgating lots for free. And Minnesota Vikings fans are Minnesota nice (no throwing batteries here – not even at Packer fans) and Vikings fans give away food and beer. Not kidding. Try it when we kinda get back to a new normal.

3. No packing up the night before – or after the game.

Packing up the night before wasn’t such a big deal. Just took some time and after that many years, you kinda have it down. But for some reason, unpacking and unloading the tailgating stuff after a game seemed to take forever. Probably because we weren’t as careful packing up in the tailgating lot – especially if we were running late.

One of my favorite parts of the game is watching the Vikings take the field so had to time it just right not to miss it. Typically, that meant taking down the tent and packing up about 45 minutes before kickoff. But sometimes we’d get too caught up in tailgating and just throw everything in at the last minute. So when we got home later that night, we had to watch out when we lifted the tailgate. I say this when my husband usually did all the unpacking for me. So I guess it really wasn’t that bad.

4. Experiment with simple and easy-to-make homegating recipes.

Crackers and raspberry sauce in bottle
Now this is my kind of a simple tailgating / homegating three-ingredient recipe: Crackers and raspberry-chipotle dip; the third ingredient is cream cheese. And now that I see this sauce is good with pork tenderloin, we may try that at our next homegate.

Who am I kidding? I usually keep my tailgating – now homegating – recipes pretty simple. Summer sausage, cheddar cheese and club crackers. Johnsonville Beddar with Cheddar Smoked Sausage or No Name Steakburgers.

Although I did try something different today (something my friend served up once) that was super easy – only three ingredients: multi-grain white cheddar crackers (these are soooo good and they are gluten-free) with a roasted raspberry chipotle sauce dip. The third ingredient is cream cheese. Simply pour a little of the sauce over a little bit of the cream cheese and dip your cracker. Delish!

But maybe since I’ll have all this extra time not having to get ready for the game, I’ll start experimenting with creating some tasty homegating recipes like this authentic Thai dish on Sundays – it’s super easy and super quick).

Please follow me on my Pinterest Tailgating / Homegating board for new recipes, games, hacks, etc. And if you’ve got any awesome tailgating recipes or homegating dishes I should try, please comment at the end of this post.

5. No long ride home after a loss.

The U.S. Bank Stadium is only 26 miles from my front door. But, you know, the traffic. And not just the car kind. The pedestrian kind. NFL fans don’t really walk on the sidewalks after football games. NFL fans walk in the middle of the street. And cross when the lights are red. I may or may not have been one of those NFL fans once or twice.

So it would take some time just to get out of the parking lot – sometimes a half hour. And then you’d deal with all the traffic. Not such a big deal – when you win the game. That’s because you’ve got the radio turned into PA on KFAN and reliving all the great highlights of the awesome Vikings game you just watched.

But when you lose, it feels like it takes hours to get home from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Granted, none of this really bothered me that much. It just helps me reframe our new reality so that I’ll enjoy watching the Minnesota Vikings this season from the comfort of my own home.

Top Minnesota Vikings memorable moments as a season ticket owner

Minnesota Vikings SKOL line

So while I write this homegating post on the eve and the day of the Minnesota Viking’s 2020 home opener, I’m reminded of some of my most memorable moments as a season ticket owner over the past 17 years.

Some good. Some bad. And some very, very, ugly.

Editorial note: The worst (and, unfortunately, most memorable) Vikings moment happened when we were fans, but before our son was old enough to remember – and before we had season tickets so that’s why you won’t see a mention of it. In fact, I don’t even have to spell it out. True Vikings fans have already groaned because they know what moment I’m talking about that we don’t want to talk about.

So here are the most memorable Minnesota Vikings moments we can talk about.

1. Minneapolis Miracle

Minneapolis Miracle scoreboard 24-29
With 10 seconds left in the game, Minnesota Vikings trailed New Orleans Saints 24-23. The Vikes pulled off the Minneapolis Miracle to advance to the NFC championship game in 2018.

No words can convey how it felt to watch the Minneapolis Miracle live in person in our end zone (our seats are in the lower level end zone where the miracle happened).

We – as in Vikings fans – can get a little loud. I have never experienced such a deafening roar as I did on Jan. 14, 2018 – the night of the Minneapolis Miracle. That catch by Stefon Diggs from Case Keenum and running into the end zone as time ran out is – without a doubt – my favorite and most memorable Minnesota Vikings moment.

Watching this clip of the Minneapolis Miracle still gives me goosebumps. And love the reaction of Minnesota Vikings fans watching the win on TV.

And below is some raw video footage I captured from inside U.S. Bank Stadium – moments after the Minneapolis Miracle. Definitely had a Prince vibe. Let’s Go Crazy! Delirious! Party Like it’s 1999!

2. Participating in the Minnesota Vikings halftime show with Prince’s band: The Revolution

Minnesota Vikings halftime show with Prince The Revolution band

Speaking of Prince. Beyond excited when I was selected to participate in the 2019 home-opener’s halftime show (you can see us dancing around at the 1:08 mark – we’re wearing purple). And not just any halftime show. This one featured Prince’s original band: The Revolution (not a cover band).

We had to meet up at the end of the first quarter. Since my son didn’t want to miss any of the game, my friend Angie was more than happy to join me. We had so much fun down on the Minnesota Vikings field!

Another great halftime show: The inaugural Minnesota Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016 – dedicated to Prince.

Two women dancing on football field during halftime show
My friend Angie and me dancing to Let’s Go Crazy performed by Prince’s original band, The Revolution, during the Minnesota Vikings 2019 home opener halftime show. See the raw footage of this experience in the video below.


3. Attended coldest Minnesota Vikings game ever

Family bundled up during a cold football game
We (my husband, me, my son and his friend) braved the brrrr-low temps of the coldest Minnesota Vikings game ever.

We not only earned bragging rights for attending the coldest Minnesota Vikings game ever (and the third coldest in NFL history), we even got a certificate! It was a January 2016 playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium (while the U.S. Bank Stadium was being built*).

The kickoff temp was minus 6 degrees Fahrenheit with a windchild of 25 below zero. Needless to say, we did not tailgate that day.

To be honest, it didn’t seem that cold…well, until it did. We actually had a chance to win the playoff game at the very end. But we didn’t. It was a long shot, so I wasn’t really that bummed. However, I was really bummed when a guy behind me rear-ended me as we left the tailgating lot. I don’t really miss driving home from the tailgating lots.

Minnesota Vikings stadium under construction
*A view from our section while the U.S. Bank Stadium was under construction.

*Fun fact: My former company provided the PEX pipe used in U.S. Bank Stadium – commercial plumbing and radiant heat on the rooftop. So I had an opportunity to tour the Minnesota Vikings stadium while under construction.


4. Brett Favre plays – and wins – against Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football

Mom and son with painted face at Minnesota Vikings game
Here we are at the Monday Night Football game in 2009 when Brett Favre (dressed in purple as a Minnesota Vikings) played and won against the Green Bay Packers. Notice the empty seats. That’s because we got there super early. You know, tailgating lot and whatnot.

It’s always memorable when the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers, but this night was pretty special. Brett Favre became the first quarterback in NFL history to beat every single NFL team.

The 2009 Minnesota Vikings season was pretty magical – we didn’t lose a single home game. And it began with the home opener where the Minnesota Vikings won an incredible come-from-behind game vs. San Francisco. Brett Favre threw a back-of-the-end-zone pass to Greg Lewis.

I’m pretty sure that happened in our end zone. I’m not sure because one of the greatest plays in NFL history happened while we listened to it on KFAN on our way home. That was the last time we ever left a Minnesota Vikings game early to beat traffic. It’s not over until it’s over.

5. Adrian Peterson’s rookie season

Boy holding framed newspaper
I won this framed newspaper signed by Adrian Peterson in a Minnesota Vikings silent auction – headlines from when AP set a NFL single-game rushing record vs. San Diego.

Watching AP play as a Minnesota Viking (like his 2,000-yard MVP season) was usually worth the price of admission. And his rookie season dressed in purple was exceptional – especially the game vs. San Diego on Nov. 4, 2007. Adrian Peterson set an NFL record for the most rushing yards in a single game (296).

My son missed that game as he had hockey, but I was there with my sister-in-law. And a couple of years later, I won this framed autographed newspaper that still hangs in my son’s room. Right next to the framed newspaper with the Minneapolis Miracle headlines and photos.

6. Randy Moss

Randy Moss.

That is all.

I really don’t need to say more, but I will.

Cris Carter is my all-time favorite Minnesota Vikings player. However, I’m a huge fan of Hall of Famer Randy Moss – even from way back in the day when people were super critical of his antics. I believe he’s always just been a misunderstood individual (A columnist wrote that once and I adopted it). And there is no denying Randy Moss is a super freak!

While there are countless highlight reels of Moss catching impossible catches, my favorite play is from a game we attended versus the Denver Broncos. Moss made a great catch – but he wasn’t done yet. He saw a flash of purple so made a blind lateral pass to Moe Williams who ran it in for a touchdown – in our end zone.

And, seriously, Paul Allen (PA) from KFAN is THE best NFL announcer ever! Just listening to him makes me smile – every time!

7. Tailgating with the Commish

Vikings fans take selfie with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

So this doesn’t happen every day in the Minnesota Vikings tailgating lot.

My son and I were hanging out in the tailgating lot before one Sunday game. Pretty low-key until we noticed that something (or someone) was attracting a lot of attention. Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, was strolling right by us surrounded by a bunch of reporters. I know a lot of people aren’t huge fans of Goodell. I honestly don’t have an opinion, but did not want to pass on this moment to get a photo.

I asked Roger if we could (first-name basis if you’re taking a selfie). And he obliged willingly. Not just once, but twice. I made him take a second photo because I forgot to take off my reading glasses in the first shot.

Vikings fans on the jumbotron
I think we took this selfie on the same day we took the one with Roger Goodell. I posted it on Instagram and it showed up on the jumbotron at the next Minnesota Vikings home game. Funny thing is that I never saw this Minnesota Vikings selfie up on the big screen myself. Others did and texted it to me.

8. Metrodome collapsed. As did Brett Favre and the 2010 season.

So for those of you unfamiliar with the Minnesota Vikings’ former stadium, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome featured a fiberglass fabric roof supported by air pressure. Leaving the dome was always one of my favorite parts of the game-day experience – you literally got sucked out of the building when you exited.

We got a lot of snow Dec. 10-11, 2010 – 17.1 inches of the white stuff. In fact, it was one of the biggest snowstorms / blizzards in Minnesota history. The snow was so heavy it tore through the Metrodome roof and it collapsed the morning of the scheduled game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants. The Giants couldn’t fly in so the game was postponed and rescheduled in Detroit the next night.

Mom and son at outdoor football game in winter
Here we are at a Minnesota Vikings game in December 2010 – first outdoor home game in 29 years to the day. It was also, sadly, Brett Favre’s final game as a professional NFL player. He was hurt on a play that ended his career.

Needless to say the Dome was out of commission for the rest of the season. And we played our final home game at the open-air TCF Stadium. Getting there was an adventure. It was blizzard-like conditions. My friend was driving us and we could not see out the window. So we stopped and caught the light rail, which took us to the Metrodome where we had to catch a bus to TCF Stadium.

Despite losing against the Chicago Bears and losing Brett Favre to a career-ending injury, my son and I still had a lot of fun. It was our first time watching the Minnesota Vikings play outdoors. That novelty wore off a few years later when all games were outside for a couple of seasons.

9. Minnesota Vikings Training Camp – signed autograph by Chuck Foreman

Two boys with Minnesota Vikings player Chuck Foreman

Going to the Minnesota Vikings training camp is a pretty special event especially when you are little. And I think this moment stands out for me particularly is that my son and his friend (who are pictured here with former Minnesota Vikings running back star Chuck Foreman) are still really good friends – a friendship from elementary school through post-college.

What’s also memorable is that Chuck Foreman let the boys wear his NFC championship rings and he also signed my son’s cast (Sam broke his arm falling from the monkey bars a few weeks earlier). Pretty cool, huh? What makes this moment memorable is that one of the neighborhood boys signed his name over Chuck Foreman’s autograph. Too funny! Sam still has his cast and we still have the memory.

10. Tailgating: Grapefruit mimosas and hula hoops

Tailgating Vikibgs Football Game
A few of my friends enjoying grapefruit mimosas while tailgating Although this may have been the day when I mistakenly asked my husband to pick up pineapple juice instead of grapefruit juice.
Vikings fan Hula hooping holding a beer
Hula hooping while holding a beverage is pretty much my only talent. I used to give hula hoop lessons in the tailgating lot – here at the more spacious Metrodome tailgating lot.
Minnesota Vikings Purple Pimps Hula Hoop
Giving the iconic Minnesota Vikings Purple Pimps a hula hoop lesson in the tailgating lot.

I do miss tailgating. So am hoping to homegate (responsibly) during this 2020 season. Not sure what that looks like yet. So until I get it figured out, I’ll reminisce and remain grateful for all the fun times tailgating with family and friends over the years.

I plan to add posts to this series as we finetune our homegate experience – including homegating recipes and modified tailgating games. Stay tuned by signing up for updates!


Tailgating games that play the same when homegating

Young man playing jenga game on deck

Many of our favorite Minnesota Vikings tailgating games can easily be played while homegating – giant tumbling tower (Jenga-like), beans/cornhole, washers, ladder game, and more.


How to turn your backyard or driveway into a tailgating lot for homegating

Last winter (yes, in January! in Minnesota!) we set up our tailgating gear in our driveway and invited friends and neighbors to stop by for burgers, brats and beer – and grapefruit mimosas.

To help get into the spirit for our hometown / homestate football team, we plan to create a socially responsible homegating experience. We’re still working on how this will look like. Like setting up in our backyards or driveways or BYOB and BYOF and BYOC (Bring your own beer, food, chair). Watch for a future post.

And even if we or you decide to keep the homegating to your own household, you can create some fun and show your team spirit with the right tailgating / homegating NFL-themed gear and supplies.


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Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

16 comments

  1. Wow, you have made some amazing memories over the years. I loved looking at all these pictures! I heard the pac 10 was getting all sort of upset people in the Midwest for canceling the season and are reconsidering their decision! You guys are die hard football fans!

  2. You are too cute! My oldest is a HUGE Saints fan and was devastated by that game. He cried all night. I am sorry you are missing all your fun this season. Though we don’t have season tickets, my boys are huge sports fans, and well, we may know a thing or two about football here. 😉 In fact, Randy Moss may sound familiar. Good luck with your season!

    1. With Saints and Patriots I don’t doubt it! It was so weird to see Tom Brady in a different uniform. I can see how that game would be so devastating to Saints fans…Vikings have made me cry a time or two. Looking forward to tailgating and homegating during the 2020 season.

  3. What a fun read and great insight looking at the pros and cons of both. We have always been a homegating family so this year is nothing new to us. We love hanging out with a few friends for the games instead of a stadium full of fans.

  4. What wonderful memories you’ve created with your season tickets! I’m sorry you won’t get to watch the games live this year, but I’m sure that your family will have some new, unique, and fun memories while the stadium holds your beer. 🙂

  5. Bummer on 2020 cancelling everything, including football. Glad you can find the good in watching your team from home! My Cleveland Brownies are always terrible, so go Vikings! Why not haha

  6. I’m not a sports fan and I don’t live in the US so I never really got tailgating culture. It seems fun but wow is it expensive if beers cost $11! Sounds like homegating can be just as fun

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