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Fan's view: Outdoor Vikings game will be too cool to miss

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A longtime Vikings season ticket holder is looking forward to the cool factor of seeing an outdoor game, 29 years to the day since his last one in the Twin Cities.

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The last game at the old Metropolitan Stadium was Dec. 20, 1981. Steve Shepherd, who owns Shep's on 6th in downtown Brainerd, was there. He didn't expect to have the opportunity again but on Dec. 20, 2010, Shepherd plans to among the chilled fans cheering on the Vikings at the 50th anniversary celebration and Monday Night Football game. Even without the comforts of the fallen Metrodome. 

“I’m definitely going to go,” Shepherd said. “I think the nostalgia of being outdoors will be incredible.

“You’ve got to be there.”

The seating, on a first-come, first-serve basis, he expects to be a mess. It should be a long day of standing before the seating bit actually starts. Shepherd will be going with his usual crew of four and meeting up with about 15 to 20 other people at the game. 

Plans are to leave Brainerd about 11 a.m., get to the Twin Cities and find a parking place, go eat, perhaps take in a few fortifying beverages and then stand in line. Shepherd expects to be out in the cold from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. He said he’s never left a game early and doesn’t intend to now, no matter what the score. 

Shepherd thought they may move the game to Lambeau Field in Green Bay instead of shoveling out the Gopher’s TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota. But with the 50th anniversary celebration, a mammoth effort is going into keeping the game on Minnesota soil. The Bank will now be it’s own version of the famed “frozen tundra.” 

“That’s probably the only way they could’ve of done it,” Shepherd said, adding he is curious to see what kind of turnout there is for the game. “I think just to say you were going to be at that game is going to be a cool thing.”

Shepherd’s been a season ticket holder since 1975 and said he hasn’t missed a game. The coldest he remembers? A late 1970s game in December against the Philadelphia Eagles where the temperatures were about 15 degrees below zero. Conditions in the upper rows exposed to the breeze were described as bitter. 

For Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears, Shepherd said there is a plan for attire. 

“Layers and layers.” 

On top of the layers, a snowmobile suit, a few heat packs for fingers and toes and expectations for little exposed skin. Shepherd expects the experience to bring back memories of the Met stadium and come at an incredible bookend in terms of falling on the same date 29 years apart.

But it’s been that kind of tumultuous season where even a snow collapsed dome and a frigid outdoor game may well fit in to the overall story. And one where diehard fans aren’t likely to be put off by cold temperatures, lines to get in, or even fears of leaving a seat during the game in case another fan swoops in for one of the limited spots. 

Shepherd said: “It’s been a season where you can’t make that stuff up.” 

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5852.

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Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2010 and works as a online reporter, content editor and staff writer. She is a world traveler, accused idealist and California native now braving the winters of Central Minnesota. She believes in the power of human resolve and hopes to be part of something that makes history by bringing an end to injustice in the world. Sarah has worked as a criminal background researcher, high school civics teacher, grant writer, and contributing writer with Causecast.org — tackling every issue from global poverty to bio-degradable bicycles. Her favorite thing about living in Minnesota is July. Sarah left the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2014.
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