The regular season opening of the Minnesota Vikings’ gleaming new $1.1 billion stadium was truly a grand one, filled with gray-haired legends, white-hot pyrotechnics and some purple rain for good measure.
And noise. Lots and lots of noise.
The Vikings opened U.S. Bank Stadium in earnest on Sunday night with a 17-14 victory over NFC North rival Green Bay, the culmination of a decade-long struggle to replace the drab and dingy Metrodome.
The fixed-roof beauty has already hosted a soccer game, a couple of concerts and two preseason football games. But this was its first truly big moment, with a showdown against the hated Packers in front of a primetime, national television audience serving as the perfect backdrop.
There were more than 20 stars from the team’s proud past in attendance, including the entire Purple People Eaters defensive line that led the Vikings to four Super Bowls in the 1960s and ’70s. Hall of Famers Fran Tarkenton, Randall McDaniel and Cris Carter were there, too, and beloved former coach Bud Grant blew the gjallahorn to welcome the team to the field.
Pregame festivities included a huge party on the commons area in front of the stadium with live music for a crowd of thousands that piled into downtown Minneapolis hours before kickoff. As the game grew closer, the world’s largest pivoting glass doors opened on the west side of the stadium to allow nearly 67,000 fans to stream in, and the Vikings showed a video featuring Thor Bjornsson — The Mountain from “Game of Thrones” — who helped introduce a new cheer based on an Icelandic war chant.