Midwest Matchup: The Stadiums

Story by Eric Christenson and Thom Fountain

Minnesota Stadiums
By Thom Fountain

I’m not going to sit here and say Wisconsin stadiums are awful. That would be a futile argument. I just want to say, “Hey, Wisconsinites: Minnesota’s alright, too.”

I’m going to start with my personal favorite arena, the Xcel Energy Center, where the Minnesota Wild play. I’ve been to a few NHL games there and at other arenas around the country and I can say that the Xcel Center is a true tribute to the sport of hockey.

Holding just over 18,000 for Wild games, the decade-old structure is located right in the heart of beautiful St. Paul, Minn. High school teams from across the state of Minnesota have their jerseys hung along the ceiling and countless signs declare Minnesota the “State of Hockey.”

Win or loss, the stadium encourages a sense of community among the thousands that occupy the seats for each game.

Another highlight in the Twin Cities area is the newly erected TCF Bank Stadium which plays host to the University of Minnesota Gophers on Saturdays.

The gorgeous outdoor stadium caters to Minnesota fans – housing 50,000 on any given game day – with a throwback collegiate look and feel.

The brand-spankin’-new structure was built with sustainability in mind, with 97 percent of the steel being recycled. The field even offers a large, ground floor gate with a view of the field for those who can’t find tickets on any given day.

Last, but not least, in the list of grandiose sports’ structures in Minnesota is the newest: Target Field. Home to the Twins, this lovely outdoor stadium just outside the Twin Cities has a focus on history. Each gate is named after a retired Twin, including Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett.

So while Wisconsin may have older stadiums, Minnesota’s newest sports’ arenas are bringing in a new era of successful teams.

And, I bet you can’t get walleye at Miller Park.

Wisconsin Stadiums
By Eric Christenson

Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field

If you would’ve asked me ten years ago whose stadiums were better, Minnesota’s or Wisconsin’s, I would’ve said Wisconsin’s by default because I’m a homegrown, pure-bred Wisconsin boy.

Now, I’ve lived the last third of life in a general apathy for most sports. Sure I’d go through Brewer phases, but that didn’t last. And while the Packers were pretty bleak for a while, it’s important to keep the fire alive.

So as a nontraditional Wisconsin sports fan, I still think we’ve got the edge. Not to say that my opinion is more valid than someone whose face spends every Sunday drenched in green-and-gold; it’s just worth mentioning that I’m not foaming at the mouth for a win.

That being said, Wisconsin stadiums are better, not for material reasons, but for the traditions that each stadium evokes.

Let’s start with Miller Park.

Now, the Twins may have shiny new Target Field, but do they have Bernie Brewer barreling down the slide for every Brewer homerun? Do they have sixth inning sausage races? The answer is no. Miller Park is better entertainment especially for the whole family.

How about Camp Randall?

Anyone who has experienced a Camp Randall student section will tell you of the life-changing and often spiritual understanding that is gained from losing every hang-up and inhibition to House of Pain in natural, beautiful unison with your peers and the world.

Plus, it’s hard to beat the Badger varsity band’s fifth quarter fan event.

Finally, for the perfect icing on any Wisconsinite’s dream stadium cake, I’d suggest Lambeau Field.

What’s special about Lambeau Field doesn’t rest only in the famous chill that spectators actually get during games, or notable soil that Vince Lombardi walked upon, or not even that time John Kerry called it “Lambert Field” and offended the entire state (presumably why he didn’t win the 2004 election).

Rather, it’s in Lambeau Field’s ability to inspire a sense of community in an otherwise lackluster city. I grew up a mere half hour from the frozen tundra, and I can tell you that on the days of home games, a fire gets lit under the entirety of Green Bay. The city becomes proud, connected and strong as the fire spreads throughout the entire region.

There’s definitely something special here in Wisconsin that shouldn’t and won’t be ignored.