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He said he’d never do it … but he did

I did something recently that I said I would never do.
I attended a Vikings pre-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium and rode the light rail transit to get there. Three things I swore were boondoggles.
First, pre-season football is like watching paint dry. It doesn’t count and, well, it’s boring.
Second, I had no intention of ever attending a game in the $1.2 billion taxpayer-subsidized playground for millionaires and billionaires. They could afford to build their own sports arenas with their own money. But they didn’t, because the state of Minnesota tossed millions of dollars their way as if dollars were flower petals. Even I wouldn’t turn my back on “free” money.
Third, light rail transit is a losing proposition and will never pay for itself.
All that said, I didn’t pay a thing to attend this pre-season Vikings game. The tickets were free. And my son paid for the transit fares. See, I don’t turn down free things, either.
My oldest son, Eric, called me out of the blue asking if I was interested in the game. His company had a pair of tickets, and his wife and daughter were out of town. Apparently, he was so bored, he’d even call dear old Dad.
I jumped at the chance to spend time with my son. The stadium was an afterthought.
So, how’d it go, you ask?
There is a term called sensory overload. It’s where your senses are overpowered by sights and sounds around you. That is exactly how I felt.
To begin with, the height of this stadium is mind-boggling. All I could think about was: “I’m glad I don’t have to wash those windows!”
Once inside and past all the security checks, my son and I wandered the concourse prior to the game … gawking. It appeared everyone was gawking at the same time, and not watching where they were going. Jostling, bumping and dodging other humans were required to make any progress. I felt like a running back in the open field.
My son looked at me as we moved along: “You feel like a cow yet?” I felt like we were definitely being herded.
I made one mistake when I stopped for a bottle of water, and walked off $5.50 lighter in the wallet. I had a feeling I’d been fleeced. Five and a half dollars! And then they took the cap off the bottle beside. Why I’m not sure, but I suspect fewer weapons in the hands of drunken football fans cuts down the odds that someone will get hit by a flying object. But the cap? Heck, the water bottle was a better weapon anyway. And those $9.50 beer cans? They might hurt, too.
Once we found our seats, it was more gawking. The height of the building’s interior was awe-inspiring. But what really impacted me were the booming speakers, the constant flashing of electronic advertising throughout the facility and the Megatron TV sets at each end of the building. They had to be several stories high!
Then when the Viking ship belched out flame and smoke to announce the arrival of the hometown gladiators, well, the air was electrified … and smoky.
Oh, by the way, amid all this sensory chaos, a football game broke out.
The Vikings stunk up the joint in the first half, so we left midway into the third quarter to beat the rush out the doors. It seems the Vikings came to life after we left and actually won. Uff da.
The highlight of the evening, other than spending quality time with Eric, was the Green Line rail ride from Mall of America to the front door of the U.S. Bank Stadium … and back. The sea of people in purple was impressive. Then I thought: At $100 bucks a jersey and 35,000 Vikings-clad fans pouring into the stadium, how much money would that be?
By the time I tried to calculate the figure, all my senses shut down, including my math skills. Let’s just say National Football League is making a ton of money and little of it has anything to do with playing a football game.
Do I plan to attend another game?
Nope. I’m still sore about the $5.50 bottle of water. And it didn’t even taste like gold!
Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, 2014.