Two kickoffs 17 hours apart meant a rowdy weekend around the Dome. As the neighborhood gets more residential, can tailgaters coexist with residents?
When Mike Wendorf moved into a condominium in Minneapolis three years ago, he knew what to expect from downtown living. But reality twisted those expectations when tailgaters twice swarmed around his increasingly residential neighborhood north of the Metrodome over the weekend.
The Gophers crowd had barely hauled away their empty beer kegs from the parking lot next to his high-rise Saturday night when Vikings fans started firing up their grills Sunday morning.
"I expected panhandlers and sirens living in an urban setting, but 300 college kids setting up bars in vacant parking lots for an all-day party, serving underage students and urinating all over, that's another thing," said Wendorf, 39, president of the RiverWest condos.
The 400-unit RiverWest Condominiums at 401 S. 1st St. is only a long punt away from the Metrodome.
The double-whammy of tailgating -- with two kickoffs within 17 hours and revelers imbibing way before kickoff -- was muted somewhat by rainy weather and losses to Ohio State and Green Bay. But nevertheless there was an air of Mardi Gras a thousand miles north of the Big Easy.
Tony Riegert, 38, of Minnetrista, was proudly demonstrating his gas-powdered blender, combining a weed-wacker engine and chopper motorcycle handle bars to whip up loud concoctions of Powerade and vodka.
Jordan Cabak, a University of Minnesota junior studying civil engineering and alleging he's 21, arrived in the parking lot at noon Saturday. He was wearing maroon-and-gold bib overalls, a yellow "M" flag as a cape and a hard hat. Eight hours later, Susie Rogers, 42, of Mendota Heights, was sipping a Bloody Mary with friends in the same spot below Wendorf's balcony.
"To be honest, if someone comes down here extremely screaming at us, we'd offer them a drink," she said.
Her friend Andy Holb, of Richfield, puffed a fat cigar and compared the brew-haha with someone moving next to a fire station and complaining about the sirens.
And not all residents seem to mind the partying. Take Dustin Evenson, another RiverWest resident who was walking his dachshund Saturday night.
"I personally think it's great to see people getting involved in events," he said. "That's the way it should be when you move down by a stadium. If you want to live in the suburbs, live in the suburbs."
Wendorf and others say the Gophers crowd and Vikings faithful are different breeds.
"I don't even know the Vikings fans are down there," he said Sunday morning, from his balcony perch 18 floors up. "I went to the 'U' and had fun, too, so I get it. But the music and vocalness of the college students, all the hooting, hollering and yelling, we don't hear that from Vikings fans."
Standard Parking, which manages several of the tailgate lots, charges $20 and provides metal trash cans for spent charcoal and the ever important port-a-potties, along with off-duty Minneapolis cops to keep an eye on things. If music gets too loud, people are asked to quiet down.
The public urination issue isn't always the fault of the obvious party, according to Ryan Duffy, 25, who lives with his wife in the American Trio Lofts at 250 Park Av., a few blocks from the Dome.
"If you live by the Dome, you should expect tailgating," he said. "But if you charge $25 to park, the people who own and operate the lots can at least provide enough port-a-potties so people aren't running onto our property and peeing."
Brian Bade, 35, of Chanhassen, paid $25 Saturday night to park his custom-equipped Gophers mobile, a refurbished 1978 Arlington, Minn., fire-and-rescue wagon painted maroon with a huge Goldy Gopher on the side.