Minneapolis puts on a good show

Last weekend, I finally made it to the Super Bowl. I braved the bitterly cold winds and strolled around my hometown of Minneapolis taking in the fun surroundings as the biggest sporting event in the country was about to take place just down the street.

When I was in college in Indiana, Super Bowl XXXVI between the New England Patriots and New York Giants was about to take place in Indianapolis.

I was excited to take part in those festivities, but I had accepted my first full-time writing job a few weeks before and I had to move out of state. So while my wife got to have some fun with her friends downtown, sadly I missed out on the experience.

I swore that if the game ever returned to Indy or came to my home state, I would make sure to partake in the festivities. Six years later, I got my chance.

Before you get excited to find out about the game itself, I’m going to have to disappoint you. Just like my trip to Lambeau Field last October, I couldn’t make it into U.S. Bank Stadium with cost being the major factor. The cheapest seats I could find were around $5,000, and as much as I’d like to see it, that’s a tad more than I wanted and could spend.

Even though I couldn’t see the Patriots battle the Philadelphia Eagles, I was determined to do as much as I could for free.

Early Friday morning, my wife and I along with other members of my family embarked on a cold journey downtown.

To say it was brisk might be underselling it. It was freezing with temperatures barely above zero before the wind chill.

Downtown was packed with rabid fans and casual ones who couldn’t tell you the difference between a field goal and a hockey goal. However, they were having just as big of a blast as anyone.

There were booths that housed sports networks with ESPN getting the posh facility in the IDS Center, while NBC, which televised the game, got a yurt on top of a ramp. NFL Network was also there and Steve Mariucci braved the temperatures only wearing a light jacket. Must have been the Upper Peninsula upbringing.

I entered the NFL Shop stacked with ridiculously overpriced merchandise. I bought a ski hat for $35, my wife’s light-up hat for $30 and a game program for $20. Yep, you read that right. Welcome to Roger Goodell’s NFL.

Even though my hands were cracking and my mouth was getting chapped due to the constant wind in my face, I still enjoyed myself. The only disappointing thing was a lack of rowdiness. Based on the reputations of Eagles fans and Patriots fans, I was hoping to see a little rambunctious behavior just to make things exciting.

Things probably got a little wilder when the sun went down, which I’m assuming is when the rapid East Coast fans were unleashed.

Once all was said and done, we boarded a train for the Mall of America, and just in time, too. A recording blared over the speakers on the platform saying that the train to U.S. Bank Stadium would shut down at 6 p.m.

At the mall, dozens of radio sportscasters gathered at Radio Row, which was heavily surrounded by fans. National personality Doug Gottlieb was there and received a smattering of boos as well as a few middle fingers from passing fans. A large group of Eagles fans stood in front of a Philly station’s table and loudly chanted “Fly Eagles Fly,” which drew both cheers and rolled eyes.

When Sunday finally rolled around and the game kicked off, the anticipation was already high. If you read my last column, I picked the Eagles to win a low-scoring, close defensive battle. I was somewhat right — it was close all the way, but defense was lacking to say the least. As we all know, Philly ended up outlasting New England by batting down Tom Brady’s desperation Hail Mary ass to end the game, a conclusion eerily similar to the Super Bowl I watched six years ago.

As Eagles fans celebrated in the stadium (so much that some decided to take their seats home with them) and others expressed their joy by jumping on a hotel awning back in Philly, I reflected on what happened a few weeks before.

My beloved Minnesota Vikings had a chance to play the Super Bowl on their home turf, but they got blown out by the Eagles. As disappointing as it was to not see my favorite team play in my hometown, I realized that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as I would’ve been a nervous wreck the entire game. When the Patriots took the lead in the fourth quarter, the remote control probably would’ve ended up across the room. By the Vikings not being in it, I got to have a fun weekend and not have a stroke to go along with it.

Last week, I crossed an event on my bucket list. Yeah, I didn’t go to the game, but I got as close as I could get without having to take out a small loan to do so.

I made it to the Super Bowl and that’s all that matters.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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