A rare Thursday Vikings game will bring more than 60,000 fans downtown at about the time that commuters will be trying to make their way home and that could make getting out of downtown Minneapolis a task tonight.
The best advice for commuters is to leave early if possible to avoid the crush, or just know that the trip home, whether by car or bus, will likely take longer than usual.
Kickoff is at 7:25 p.m. tonight, so you can expect traffic levels to pick up any time after 4 p.m. as fans make their way to the Metrodome for the Vikings-Redskins game.
In conjunction with the game, a number of people will partake in the “Change The Name, Change The Mascot” march. Those who are insisting that the Washington team change its nickname will meet at 4:30 p.m. the American Indian Movement’s national office at 1113 E. Franklin Avenue and lead a march to the stadium, where they will rally outside on hour before the game. So look for extra pedestrians along Franklin and Chicago Avenues.
Now, if you are going simply to watch the 1-7 Vikings and the 3-5 Redskins, here are a few tips:
The City of Minneapolis will block off the following streets in the vicinity of the Metrodome beginning at 5:30 p.m. and keep them free from traffic until 2 hours after the game ends, roughly 11:30 p.m:
- 5th Street between Park Avenue and 11th Avenue.
- Chicago Avenue/Kirby Puckett Place from 3rd Street to 6th Street.
- 4th Street between Park Avenue and I-35W
- Norm McGrew Place between 3rd and 4th Streets.
It's always congested around the Metrodome, so the best advice is to park well away from the stadium . Interstates 394 and 94 offer direct access to Ramps A, B and C near Target Field and Target Center. From there, walk or catch a Metro Transit bus (Route 16 on 4th Street) or light rail train on 5th Street for 50 cents from your favorite ramp or lot. A reminder that the west platform at the Target Field light-rail station is closed.
It's also cheaper there as lots closest to the dome charge $20 or more. Here are links to downtown ramps, http://www.minneapolismn.gov/parking/ramps/index.htm.
Here is a link to downtown Minneapolis parking meters and rates, http://www.mplsparking.com/CurrentMeterMap.pdf
Parking for people with a handicap is available at the Hennepin County offices between 5th and 6th Streets on Park Avenue. Handicap street parking is also available between 3rd and 4th Streets on Chicago Avenue.
Arriving by light rail
The Metro Blue Line has been a popular way for fans to get to the game. But as game time approaches, cars are packed, so the best advice is to catch an early train. Blue Line trains stop directly across the street from the Metrodome.
Train riders can take advantage of free parking at the 28th Avenue, Fort Snelling and Lake Street/Midtown stations. Northbound trains run about every 7 to 10 minutes for most of the day with a few extra minutes between trains after 6:30 p.m.
After the game, Metro Transit will augment Blue Line service with buses that will take riders directly to the Fort Snelling and 28th Avenue Park & Ride lots. They will until post-game crowds have disbursed.
Regular rail fare of $1.75 after applies, or buy a 6-hour rail pass and avoid having to buy a second ticket to get back home.
New this year is the Metro Red Line. Connect to the Bus Rapid Transit line at the Mall of America. It runs from there to the cities of Apple Valley and Eagan. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority provides local service to the Cedar Grove and Apple Valley Transit Stations
Metro Transit also will run a special Northstar Commuter train to the game. The train will leave Big Lake at 5:06 p.m. and arrive at Target Field Station at 5:55 p.m. Departure is one hour after the game ends. Here is a link to the schedule and fares.
Fans in the southwest metro can take advantage of express bus service offered by SouthWest Transit. Motor coach buses will depart from the new East Creek Station (5:25 p.m.), as well as the Southwest Village Station (5:35 p.m.) in Chanhassen and the Eden Prairie Station (5:45 p.m.). It's only $4.50 round trip. Arrival at the Metrodome is at 6:15 p.m. Departure from 3rd Street and Park Ave. is 30 minutes after the game.
The following Metro Transit routes serve the Metrodome:
From the north or south, Routes 5, 7, 14, 19 and 22
From the west, Routes 7 and 9
From the east, Routes 3, 16 and 94.
Outside bicycle parking is available cost free. The parking attendants at the loading dock entrance at 11th Avenue and 5th Street can direct you.