Underneath what is forecast to be a perfect fall sky, the Twin Cities will experience football this weekend in ways that are equal parts hectic and unprecedented.
Per research from Gene McGivern at the University of St. Thomas, Friday-Sunday will mark the first time in history that fans can attend outdoor football games in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul at each of these levels on the same weekend: high school, Division III, Division II, Division I and NFL.
The serendipity comes as a result of the Vikings' temporary return to outdoor football, the fact that the Vikings and Gophers both have home games this weekend, and Concordia (St. Paul) becoming a Division II program in the time since the Vikings last played outdoors (and playing at home this weekend).
There are several high school games in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Friday night; three Division III games, one Division II game and one Division I (Gophers) game Saturday; and the Vikings game on Sunday.
The last two of those games presents a peculiar challenge since both teams play in TCF Bank Stadium on the same weekend for the only time during the regular season.
The Gophers-Northwestern game kicks off at 11 a.m. and should be finished roughly three hours later. After that, crews will have less than 24 hours to clean it up and re-outfit TCF Bank Stadium for the Vikings-Lions game at noon — though some of the work started earlier this week, said Derek Hillestad, director of operations at TCF Bank Stadium.
"Honestly, it's been a good exercise for us," Hillestad said. "We already have a good system in place. We've planned for this for the past four months."
Still, it will be a hectic pace, with work starting almost immediately after the Gophers game ends.
"Field painting is the obvious one, and you'll see that start up as soon as the game ends," Hillestad said. "And there will be a lot of beer restocking, obviously, getting ready for the NFL crowd. We'll have beer trucks on site with resupply starting at 5 p.m. until about midnight."
Food and beverage workers will arrive around 3 a.m. Sunday to get a jump on the day, he added.
All of it is in the name of a glorious weekend of outdoor football. McGivern suggested calling the slate of contests the "Green Line Games" since many of the stadiums in Minneapolis and St. Paul are within a reasonable walk of the new transit line.
He'll get no argument here.