I ride the light rail to work most days now. Aside from the big-city feel and camaraderie of riding the train (inside joke for Clarence Swamptown), it’s economical, easy and relaxing. While it might occasionally lead to dangerous happy hour decisions since I don’t have to drive, those are the breaks for everyone.
This is not a commercial for Metro Transit. Rather, it’s the start of a story about riding the train into work Thursday morning last week. I take the Blue Line, which twists right around the new Vikings stadium and offers striking glimpses of the progress being made on that new facility.
On this particular Thursday, “Frozen” on ice was happening at Target Center, and the train had a lot of little kids riding with their parents for a morning production. (Side note: Why are animated movies generally the ones that get the “on ice” treatment? I’d pay good money to see “The Big Lebowski On Ice” or “Back to the Future On Ice,” for example).
But anyway: lots of kids on the train, including two very adorable little girls riding with their mom a couple seats away from me. I’d guess they were maybe 4 and 6 years old. We got to the part of the ride where the Vikings stadium came into view, and all three of them marveled at the sheer size of it.
“What is that?” one of the girls asked her mom.
“I don’t know,” she replied.
A fellow passenger piped in, “That’s the new stadium where the Vikings are going to play,” adding that it will cost $1 billion to build.
They marveled again, and the mom said, “Well, they’d better do well because that looks pretty nice.”
“They probably won’t,” another rider said.
I remain struck by this conversation days later for a couple of reasons:
1) This building I’ve seen basically every weekday for a year, which I’ve toured and taken for granted, is not central to everyone’s life (even if it is the “People’s Stadium”). Some people who live here don’t even know it exists.
2) The idea that a team has a responsibility to perform well in a publicly funded palace shouldn’t be novel, but it still gave us an insight into how some people think of this new stadium. Those of us who cover Xs and Os tend to focus on the Vikings relative to the rest of the NFL, but to some they’re a part of the community that needs to represent Minnesota. If we’re going to do nice things for them, they owe us at least that.
3) The zinger at the end by the pessimistic fan. Classic Minnesota. Even when talking to two girls who clearly have zero perspective on the heartbreak of the past, the fan is passing along the history.
You can’t help but shake your head and laugh at the warped, broken and annually rebuilt fan base. In 2016 the stadium will open. And maybe next year, everything will finally come together for the Vikings.