You Gotta Be Here! The 5 Best Sporting Venues in Minnesota
You'll get why this picture has significant meaning later in this article.
Minnesota has some of the best sporting event opportunities out there, but it gets put in the shadows compared to Lambeau Field and Fenway Park.
People that have come before my time tell me about the Twins and Vikings games at Metropolitan Stadium, or North Star games at the Met Center. Many people also say that the Minnesota sports scene had its heyday, and they often turn to other professional teams to fill their void.
Well, don't consider me your savior, but I'm here to point out five places that you must visit if you're a Minnesota sports fan.
5. Minnesota Twins Game at Target Field
When the Twins called the Metrodome home, going to a Twins game wasn't a big thing unless it was a playoff game or they were playing the Yankees.
But with Target Field being the Twins new ballpark, going to a Twins game is like attending a black tie gala or a night at the theater; it's elegant, and an enjoyable experience.
The Twins are off to a slow start, but that shouldn't bring your experience at Target Field down that much. It is the newest ballpark in the majors, and one of the most high tech (its has Wi-Fi!).
So if you get Twins tickets, don't pass them up because a.) most games are sold out, and b.) it will be an experience you'll never forget.
PS: Go at night, it is a lot better!
4. St. Thomas Tommies vs. St. John's Johnnies Football Game at Clemens Stadium
When people think of rivalries, they most likely think of Ohio State-Michigan or Yankees-Red Sox, but when I think of rivalries, Johnnies-Tommies comes to my mind. If you don't know these two schools, here's some quick facts.
University of St. Thomas - Campuses in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Owatonna, and Rome, Italy, 10,839 students, very good at basketball (2011 national champions), baseball (2009 national champions, and my brother plays there), and softball (2004 and 2005 national champions)
Saint John's University- Campus in Collegeville, Minnesota, all-male, 1,917 students, has a sister school College of St. Benedict that is all-female, very good at football (1963, 1965, 1977, and 2003 national champions)
These two schools HATE each other, and they're both Private Catholic schools, which is odd. The Johnnies normally dominate the Tommies. The Tommies have got closer and closer to taking down the Johnnies until they finally ended a 16-game losing streak to St. John's in 2010.
St. John's football stadium is called Clemens Stadium, named after William Clemens (as you can tell, I'm a huge Johnnie fan). It was named on of Sports Illustrated's Top 10 Dream Destinations due to it's "natural bowl" like shape, and it's beauty.
If you want to see a huge rivalry, but on a smaller game, I recommend you make the trip up to Collegevile.
3. Minnesota Golden Gopher Hockey Game at Mariucci Arena
Texas has football, the East Coast has lacrosse, and Minnesota has hockey as their "athletic religion".
Minnesota hockey wouldn't be where it is today without the help of one man: John Mariucci, former Minnesota Gopher hockey coach. He spread the game around the state of Minnesota, urging city governments to build outdoor hockey rinks for kids to play on. Without his help, I wouldn't be writing this slide.
Minnesota has had great players of the past, such as Neal Broten, John Mayasich, and many of the 1980 United States "Mireacle on Ice" team. But they also have had recent players find success, such as Kyle Okposo, Erik Johnson, and Nick Leddy, who recently won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
History covers these walls (literally, there are pictures of every team on the walls), and if they could talk, they would say that there is never a bad experience at Mariucci Arena. The stadium is filled with Gopher faithful, and the student section is, wait for it, (Dick Vitale voice) "Crazy, baby!!!"
The Gophers also get many of the best players in the state, and it has been fun tracking their careers after they've hung up the skates as a Gopher.
So if that isn't enough for you, they make great ice cream.
2. Walleye Fishing on Lake Vermilion
If Maine lobster is the best lobster to eat, then Lake Vermilion walleye is the best walleye to pig out on.
If you're wondering, "Henry, fishing on a lake isn't a venue", I admit you're right. But what would you rather be doing; working a long day at the office (or going to school for the pupils like me), or go fishing? As much as I love taking biology tests, I'd rather be fishing.
Lake Vermilion is prime for fishing because the walleye bite like it's their day job. Nothing is better than catching a walleye and bringing it up to a restaurant and having them fry it for you, and Lake Vermilion has many restaurants that will do this.
If you're not a fisherman, then Lake Vermilion will draw you in because of it's beauty. The trees are plentiful, the loons always let out their trademark call, and if you're lucky, you'll spot a majestic bald eagle.
All in all, Lake Vermilion is one of the best lakes in Minnesota as far as fishing and beauty goes and this is saying a lot because there are over 10,000 lakes!
1. "The Tourney" Minnesota State High School Boy's Hockey Tournament
It's called "The Tourney" by many people, meaning it is the best tournament out there.
The skeptic person would say "Why is this tournament so great? It's just a bunch of high schoolers playing hockey."
That is where you're wrong, Mr. Skeptic. This tournament is circled on Minnesota hockey fans' calendars. I cannot describe why it is so great. You have to be there to experience it. Let me lay this fact on you; it is the most attended high school state championship in the United States, beating football in Texas. That is a big achievement.
I was blessed by the hockey gods to have my high school team play in the state tournament this past year (thanks again Eagan Boy's hockey), and I will never forget it. The environment in the arena is unlike any other. Between the chants between the two teams and section 216, the great hockey being played, and the history of the tournament, nothing is better.
My high school team is Eagan (referring to the main picture, that was Nick Kuchera scoring with Eli "E" May as No. 14 when they beat Moorhead 4-0 in the quarterfinal game of "The Tourney"). They ended up placing third, and this was the biggest thing since sliced bread to our school.
So here you have it, the five best sporting venues in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. If you visit all of these venues before you kick the bucket, you'll be a diehard Minnesota sports fan.