This wouldn’t happen today.
I snuck into the 1992 Super Bowl at the Metrodome.
How do you sneak into the Super Bowl? Make new friends.
On a business flight home, my seatmate, Dennis, was a security guard for the NFL Experience. (Just like today, the NFL had to bring in workers from out-of-state). I told him I’d show him around town.
The day before the game, we went to the St. Paul Winter Carnival snow slide and the ice carvings. We took the shuttle bus to the big Harriet Island Ice Castle, once in the daylight, once at night. The castle was incredibly beautiful.
On the way home from St. Paul, we stopped at the Metrodome. Dennis met some of his security buddies, and we got to walk onto the field. It was amazing! So I asked Dennis can I get in to see the game tomorrow the same way. He said we could try.
All they can say is “no.”
Dennis and I arrived more than three hours before the game, (about the same length of time they tell ticket-holders today). With some trepidation, we walked down the huge loading dock ramp, into the belly of the beast. Some of the Buffalo Bills players were right in front of us. It felt as if we were rebels infiltrating the Death Star, with Stormtroopers all around us!
The first security guard was Dennis’ friend, but the next one was tougher. He looked me up and down with the biggest icy stare he could muster, but I remained cool, as if I belong there. Dennis’ charm ultimately waved me in. “He’s with me”, he said, and we were in.
Dennis had to work at the convention center, so we parted. I gave him a few bucks, and then ran up one of the Dome’s long stairwells to the lower concourse. I couldn’t believe I made it in.
With hours to kill I used pay phones to call my startled family, friends and my softball team’s Super Bowl party. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t shout into the phone, “I snuck into the Super Bowl!”
The real fun was walking the concourse, as the Metrodome had just one level of suites, with no private entrances. And due to that stadium design “flaw”, the glitterati had to walk the concourse with the rest of us.
I shook hands with Donald Trump, and his then-girlfriend Marla Maples. They couldn’t have been more pleasant to a local rube. I read the future president doesn’t like to shake hands, but he shook mine and said “Hello,” and he wasn’t even a politician then. I shook the hand of Dan Rather, too, (a hero of mine). Larry King, Joe Theismann and Eddie Albert either waved at, or snubbed me.
I think I did only four laps of the concourse!
For the game, I sat down in a near-empty row near the end zone of the lower deck. Near the end of its life, the dome got lot of heat for being a dump, but for the Super Bowl, the place looked great. The old “We Like It Here” sign had been replaced by beverage advertising. And for all the mocking the half-time show gets today, Gloria Estefan nailed “Get on Your Feet”. The rest of the show was very busy and all over the place, with winter themes, Olympic heroes, ice skaters, snowflake dancers, roller-bladers, the U of M band and inflatable snowmen, but even I didn’t mind the audience flip-cards.
In the third quarter I was kicked out of my empty row of seats by some cheerleaders, but no matter, as the game was a blow-out. When it ended, the name of the Washington general manager boomed out over the loudspeakers, as oddly, he and I share the same first and last name.
It was about as out-of-body experience as it can get. I grabbed a discarded souvenir seat-cushion and whooshed out the dome’s famous air-tunnel doors and took the bus home.
The official attendance was 63,130. I went to the game, but I wouldn’t be counted.
I hope the statute of limitations is up.
Charlie Casserly is 57, a lifelong Minneapolis resident, Vikings fan, and works for Minnesota Continuing Legal Education. He is also Executive Director of the Twin Cities Beach Blast, (the milk carton boat races & sandcastle competition.) He was a lot younger in 1992, and wouldn't recommend anyone sneak into this year's Super Bowl.