The streets of Minneapolis were filled with something electric and organic and new and inspiring on Saturday; and it wasn't just because the President was in town.
For men of leisure, sans children or bride - the opening of a sporting venue is our version of giving birth. The opening of TCF Bank Stadium on the U of M campus was an absolute Trip. Crazy good fun -- complete with rowdy kids, nostalgic old fellas, tailgaters, grills, dudes tossing beanbags & footballs and drinking beer in parking lots, cameras everywhere, and marching bands somewhere in the ocean of maroon & gold. Picture a Dead show but with Bronko Nagurski jiving to "Shakedown Street." The scene made me want to re-enroll.
Oh, and the stadium itself is nothing to squawk at, either. Designed by the same firm, Populous (formerly HOK Sport) responsible for Target Field, TCF is an absolute peach. Withthe third-largest scoreboard in college football (behind only Texas and Mississippi St.) overlooking a raucous and enfolded sellout crowed of 50,000+ , senior linebacker Nate Triplett (17 tackles, fumble return for TD) and the G-Men launched the new era of outdoor football with a grinding, 20-13 win over (ironically named) Air Force, whose unique option offense still sliced-up the Gopher D with over 260 ground yards. The win improved Minnesota to 2-0; California (2-0), ranked 8th in the nation, visits TCF on Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Just two years after ground was broken in June of 2007, TCF was impressively ready to host. Among the myriad names, numbers, companies, donations, dollar figures, and materials spoken in sentence with TCF, stats with the most gravity include: over 2,000 laborers worked on the stadium at some juncture, including 750 at construction's peak; over 1.3 million work hours were logged on TCF in the two-plus years; nearly 9,000 tons of structural steel wasused; the stadium has 760,000 units of full and thin brick; there are nearly 9,200 Minnesota Block "M"'s in the stadium.
And surely, neither a team of any nature nor a structure of TCF's magnitude is much of anything without its driven pillars of support. Just prior to halftime, one of "The "Bank"'s most tenured pillars - lead stadium architect Jeff Spear of Populous - took a few minutes to share with City Pages both the impressions of his vision come to life, and his enthusiasm for Opening Night. Here's Jeff at his favorite part of TCF, the Student Entrance:
(Please adjust audio for quality)