There were decades when the traditional end to Minnesota’s high school football season occurred when the champions of the Minneapolis and St. Paul conferences played at Memorial Stadium on Veterans Day.
The state high school league approved a playoff system in 1972, and it became a bigger deal – the Prep Bowl – when the Metrodome opened in 1982.
The champions started to be crowned on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The Prep Bowl became a two-day event in 2007.
Minnesota’s high school football clock returned to its roots in 2015, with the Prep Bowl being played during the week of Veterans Day. The reason was the absence of a dome and the Big Ten schedule putting the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium for the next two Saturdays.
The early finish to the playoffs meant an early start to the regular season, so much so that there were football teams in Minnesota that played three games before the 2015-16 academic year started at their schools.
OK, but everything will change in 2016, when the two-day Prep Bowl will be contested on Thanksgiving weekend in more glorious surroundings than ever:
Inside the new $1.2 billion dome – called the Taj Ma Zygi by some and the People’s Stadium by Mark Dayton, the governor who pushed and then signed the legislation for the stadium.
The 2016 Prep Bowl defitnitely will present the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority an opportunity to fulfill that People’s Stadium vow for the governor.
The Metrodome landlords charged the high school league rent and billed it all costs for the eight days of soccer and football playoffs. The number charged approached $250,000.
Here’s the good news for the 2016 Prep Bowl: The legislation for the People’s Stadium specifically states that the high school league is entitled to the new dome for seven days for free.
Not free rent; free everything. Security, cleanup, ticket taking, game operations … all of that is specifically listed as being no-charge in the legislation.
The one out to allow the stadium authority to charge is this: The high school league was using eight days for football, boys soccer and girls soccer, and it is only guaranteed seven free days.
It will be interesting if Ted Mondale and Co. follow the spirit of the People’s Stadium legislation, or if they try to bring out the gouge for that needed extra day.
Hey, the public is throwing in the second-highest total of millions ever for an NFL stadium, and that ought to be enough for Minnesota’s grandsons and granddaughters to play football and futbol free for a few days every November, right?