TCF Bank Stadium was brimming with 54,147 fans for the Gophers' season opener against No. 2 TCU last year. Athletics department officials expect closer to 44,000 for this year's Sept. 1 opener against Oregon State.
That would be similar to what the Gophers drew when they opened with Thursday night games against UNLV (in 2013) and Eastern Illinois (2014).
As Patrick Reusse wrote recently, Sept. 1 presents a bounty of local entertainment options -- Vikings vs. Rams (U.S. Bank Stadium), Twins vs. White Sox (Target Field), Saints vs. Winnipeg (CHS Field). There's also the State Fair, and the high school football opener.
But it's Welcome Week at the university, and the Gophers give free tickets to first-year students, which always helps attendance for the home opener.
On Wednesday, the university announced some security updates and reminded fans to allow extra time when entering TCF Bank Stadium. From the press release:
The most significant change fans will notice ... will be the use of hand-held metal detector to screen everyone entering the facility. This is a best practice at all large sporting venues in the Twin Cities that have established policies to either screen entrants with hand-held equipment or ask individuals to walk through magnetometers on their way into facilities.
This practice was used for all Minnesota Vikings games played at TCF Bank Stadium the past two seasons, as well as the NHL Stadium Series game last winter and major concerts held at the venue.
In addition to this new policy, the University also reminds fans of its bag policy, which went into effect during the 2015 season. The bag policy is the same as that used in all 32 NFL stadiums around the country and hasn’t changed since last season. Fans will be allowed to enter with clear tote bags (up to 12 inches by six inches by 12 inches) or one-gallon, re-sealable plastic bags. Small, clutch-style purses, up to 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches, will still be allowed as well.
A PDF that helps visualize which bags are and are not allowed in the stadium in accordance with this policy is available on GopherSports.com. Fans who wish to purchase an approved-size, clear bag can find them at Goldy’s Locker Room outside of Gate E near the Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza.
Like last year, fans can take advantage of a complimentary bag check available inside the University Avenue entrance of Williams Arena. Bag check opens 2.5 hours prior to kickoff and remains open until one hour after the game ends.