Advice for Novice/First time fan

Johnob2

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I am an English Gopher fan making my first trip to Minnesota (along with my teenage son) for the UNLV game. My work commitments make it impossible for me to travel Sept to January so these Thursday night openers are a special opportunity for me to attend (went to Vegas last year). Really keen to make the most of the visit and will be very grateful for any advice anyone can offer! My main priority is to do as much as possible football related. Culture and other sports will be nice but a distant second.

We are staying from the 24th to 31st August in a hotel near the Campus. Skeleton plan as follows:

Sat 24th: Quick scout around local area as arriving late.
Sun 25th: State Fair - possibly women's soccer in evening
Mon 26th: Mall of America - Goldy's Locker Room!
Tues 27th: University sports facility tours during day if possible, Twins game
Wed 28th: Metrodome tour during day, Twins game
Thurs 29th: GAME DAY!!!
Friday 30th: Jucy Lucy Challenge, High School game at Washburn

Is the game at Washburn the best one for us to go to on the Friday? Was keen to see Jeff Jones play but understand he may be transferring?

Is there anything obvious I am missing that I could do sometime during the visit?

Thanks in anticipation of any responses; I read updates on Gopherhole at least 10 times a day and even though some of the threads get a little blurred with the occasional bickering, it is an outstanding source of information for an overseas supporter.

Best wishes
 

Stan

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Welcome to posting and awesome that you're making the trip! Hopefully the "Lads" put on a good performance for you guys!

Out of curiosity, how does one become a die-hard Gopher fan across the pond? Are you originally from here?

Make sure you check out the Minnesota Gopher booth/area at the State Fair. Sneak into The Barn and Mariucci if you can.
 

GopherVictory

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I am an English Gopher fan making my first trip to Minnesota (along with my teenage son) for the UNLV game. My work commitments make it impossible for me to travel Sept to January so these Thursday night openers are a special opportunity for me to attend (went to Vegas last year). Really keen to make the most of the visit and will be very grateful for any advice anyone can offer! My main priority is to do as much as possible football related. Culture and other sports will be nice but a distant second.
That's fantastic! I have to ask how you became a Gopher fan from England. Have a fantastic time in our wonderful state. You sure picked a great time to visit.
 

AuEGO4

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I will beat everyone else to this recommendation, but you have to get breakfast at Al's in Dinkytown one day.
 

FreakyDeke

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Go to the Mall of America for the Mall of America's sake if you want to, but don't make a special trip for Goldy's Lockerroom, because the one in the stadium is much better. Also in the stadium, check out the athletic Hall of Fame. Aross the street at the Alumni Center, they have the entry gate of old Memorial Stadium preserved.
 
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Sports aren't everything, including American football. Monday looks like a very light day for you. No first time visitor to the Twin Cities should pass up the opportunity to take a boat trip on the Mississippi River with their son (even if he is a teenager). Here are a couple links:

http://www.minneapolis.org/visitor/tours-attractions/boat-tours

http://www.riverrides.com/pages/public/sightseeing.html

You should try to find one that takes you through a lock and dam. Welcome to Minnesota and have fun.
 

Johnob2

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I've been a football fan for about 30 years since it first aired on UK TV. We only really started to see college football about 5 years ago when ESPN America started broadcasting - it was then I immediately switched from the NFL to the college game.

My initial reasons for choosing Minnesota as my team were a bit tenuous - the Rugby team I coach and occasionally play for starts with an 'M' (Middlesbrough), we wear Maroon and Gold, and I also found the Gophers to be a great team to play as on NCAA video games. Once I got into it though and started following you guys on Gopherhole, twitter etc I found that I could really empathise with the program. I love the ethics of the current coaching staff, I like that the players genuinely seem to put team first, and the fans that my family and I met in Vegas were all very warm and friendly.

These last three years especially, I have been hooked - I subscribe to BTN International and get to see streams of all the Conference games, I stay up through the night on National signing days to check the letters have all been faxed safely and I go through every possible emotion at every twist and turn (from the extreme sadness over Gary Tinsley, the worry when coach Kill collapsed on the sideline, the elation when kids like Connor Mayes announced a firm commit for us on twitter to the heart pounding relief every time we just win the game - which always seems to be with a bit of drama on the way)

I think The U has everything a fan could ask for - tradition, high morals, the excitement of a program on the rise... there is even a pantomime villain - how I would love to meet Pantherhawk in a Lightsaber duel!

Anyway, sorry for the autobiography. I don't want to go from first time poster to being self indulgent. Thanks for the advice and the interest. I will take it all on board.
 

tinyarch

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I love your autobiography. I also tend to agree with the Dinkypope about other options. Finding a green bike via Nice Ride might be fun. Also, take the light rail to the Mall of America and hop off at Minnehaha Falls to hike around. The falls may be more of a drip if we don't get a good gullywump of rain, but the geology of the area is still fascinating and in the heart of the city. Finally, if you feel a bit home sick, stop in at Brits Pub for a bite to eat and some fun. Perhaps you'll even be able to catch your favorite British team in action on the tele. Ultimately, I hope you have a lot of fun.
 

TexasAggie11

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Howdy, Johnob2!

My first visit to the University of Minnesota was just about a year ago, so allow me to share with you some highlights from my trip that you might enjoy.

While on campus, in addition to the athletic facilities, there are a number of other places you should check out. First is Pilsbury Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus, and a registered historical landmark. The Armory is another historical building with great architectural significance. The mall area, anchored by Northrop Memorial Auditorium is very beautiful, and be sure to note Morrill Hall. This building is named after Justin Morrill, the US Representative who authored the Morrill Act which established the land-grant university system. The land-grant university, of which the University of Minnesota is a fine example, is a unique American institution for higher education.

You will also want to make time for the McNamara Alumni Center. In addition to being an interesting piece of architecture, this building is host to a museum touting the University's academic and research excellence. As was mentioned above, the entry arch to the old Memorial Stadium can be found inside this building. From McNamara, you can walk down Scholar's Walk, which has markers identifying U of M scholars who have been awarded significant awards and distinctions.

To the west of campus is Dinkytown, a small business district. Al's Breakfast was mentioned, and I would second this for the experience. There is very limited seating, but is the classic American greasy spoon diner. On the east side of campus is another business district called Stadium Village. Of note there is Stub and Herb's a bar featuring a great (although a bit pricy) beer selection. On the West Bank of campus is yet another business district called Seven Corners. This is another great place to find food and drink.

For shopping needs, Lund's grocery store just a couple miles wast of campus on University is a great little market. Liqour in Minneapolis must be purchased in a liquor store. There is one three blocks west of the stadium on 5th, and I think I saw another one a block or so south.

When you go downtown, you will have to try Brit's Pub, a take on an English Pub, complete with lawn bowling on the roof. You will have to let everyone know how authentic it is. Downtown Minneapolis is connected with an extensive skyway system that is worth a stroll through. You can get all over downtown without setting foot outside. Foshay Tower, a historical high-rise building is another downtown attraction.

Light rail is a great way to get to the Mall of America, and the bus system can get you to downtown St. Paul or anywhere else you need to go. You can look up trips online or even use Google Maps to navigate the system. If you make it to St. Paul, the Cathedral and the Capitol are fun stops. You can also go see where they record A Prairie Home Companion, a popular radio show.

On gameday, finding a tailgate to join isn't as easy as you might think - or at least it wasn't for us for a while. Maybe being from out of the country you will make more friends. Look for a larger setup and it is helpful if you bring food and drinks to share. There will be some moderate tailgating immediately adjacent to the stadium as well as in the Ski-U-Mah lot just a block to the northeast.

Eat the cheese curds inside the stadium. They are delicious when you are drunk. I cannot tell you how they taste sober, but I would imagine they would be a treat even then. If you can get a seat closer to the end zone where the students are, you will have a great view of Goldy, the mascot. There's really not a bad seat in the house.

Enjoy your visit, and hope you make it down to Texas sometime.
 

mkAz

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You need to crash a tailgate before the game, I'm sure the local GopherHoler's can help you with that.
 

Gopherocious

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Johnob2-

TexasAggie11 did a fantastic overview per usual, but here are a few other tips as well. If you enjoy all things Gopher Athletics, try and visit a few of the complexes around campus. TCF Bank Stadium is a great place to explore, but the Gibson-Nagurski complex will also have some pretty neat things to view. Just a few blocks away, you can view the trophies and pictures from past bowl games and National Championships, along with other cool Gopher artifacts.
<img src= http://www.aecom.com/deployedfiles/Intranet/Business%20Lines/Planning,%20Design%20&%20Development/Images_MacArthur/UMinnGibsonNagurski3.jpg>

If you enjoy hockey, try and visit Mariucci Arena. It is a building filled with history, championship banners, trophies on display, and pictures of past teams. I don't know who you could get a hold of to get inside, but I'd start with Craig and see if he can help you out...

Scheduling Information
Craig Flor
(612) 625-8365 (Office)
(612) 624-5887 (Fax)

East Bank River Flats is a great area to tailgate for just $10. You are welcome to join our tailgate, although I'm not sure what lot we will be in quite yet. If you care to, I'll try and remember to post where we will be tailgating as the days get closer. Hope you enjoy your visit to the Twin Cities!
 

patrick08

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Go to the Mall of America for the Mall of America's sake if you want to, but don't make a special trip for Goldy's Lockerroom, because the one in the stadium is much better. Also in the stadium, check out the athletic Hall of Fame. Aross the street at the Alumni Center, they have the entry gate of old Memorial Stadium preserved.
Agreed. Do MOA, but the Goldy's Lockerroom there is not as awesome as the one at TCF Bank Stadium.
 

patrick08

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Also Walker Art Center sculpture garden and mini golf is pretty cool.
 

Johnob2

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Thanks

Thanks everyone for all the advice and insight - it is greatly appreciated.

I feel a lot more confident about getting the most out of my visit now.

SkiUMah
 

Norsk_Gopher

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How old is your son? Depending on his age you might want to stop by the Children's Museum (http://www.mcm.org/) or Science Museum (http://www.smm.org/) in Saint Paul. If you would like to have some "culture" the Minneapolis Institute of Art (http://beta.artsmia.org/) is world class (especially with their asian collection) or you could see the Weisman Art Museum (http://www.weisman.umn.edu/) which is on campus at the U in the weirdest building you will ever see. If you like live theater, the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is second only to New York City in the United States. Here is a list of museums in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_in_Minnesota
By the way, if you are a beer drinker (and due to stereotypes we will assume you are) make sure to try local beers, they are quite good (http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/10). Hope you have fun.
 

tinyarch

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I advocate for Burger Moes if you are wanting a pint. 60 beers on draught will keep any man busy for an hour or two!!! :drink:

How old is your son? Depending on his age you might want to stop by the Children's Museum (http://www.mcm.org/) or Science Museum (http://www.smm.org/) in Saint Paul. If you would like to have some "culture" the Minneapolis Institute of Art (http://beta.artsmia.org/) is world class (especially with their asian collection) or you could see the Weisman Art Museum (http://www.weisman.umn.edu/) which is on campus at the U in the weirdest building you will ever see. If you like live theater, the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is second only to New York City in the United States. Here is a list of museums in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_in_Minnesota
By the way, if you are a beer drinker (and due to stereotypes we will assume you are) make sure to try local beers, they are quite good (http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/10). Hope you have fun.
 

BleedGopher

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I've been a football fan for about 30 years since it first aired on UK TV. We only really started to see college football about 5 years ago when ESPN America started broadcasting - it was then I immediately switched from the NFL to the college game.

My initial reasons for choosing Minnesota as my team were a bit tenuous - the Rugby team I coach and occasionally play for starts with an 'M' (Middlesbrough), we wear Maroon and Gold, and I also found the Gophers to be a great team to play as on NCAA video games. Once I got into it though and started following you guys on Gopherhole, twitter etc I found that I could really empathise with the program. I love the ethics of the current coaching staff, I like that the players genuinely seem to put team first, and the fans that my family and I met in Vegas were all very warm and friendly.

These last three years especially, I have been hooked - I subscribe to BTN International and get to see streams of all the Conference games, I stay up through the night on National signing days to check the letters have all been faxed safely and I go through every possible emotion at every twist and turn (from the extreme sadness over Gary Tinsley, the worry when coach Kill collapsed on the sideline, the elation when kids like Connor Mayes announced a firm commit for us on twitter to the heart pounding relief every time we just win the game - which always seems to be with a bit of drama on the way)

I think The U has everything a fan could ask for - tradition, high morals, the excitement of a program on the rise... there is even a pantomime villain - how I would love to meet Pantherhawk in a Lightsaber duel!

Anyway, sorry for the autobiography. I don't want to go from first time poster to being self indulgent. Thanks for the advice and the interest. I will take it all on board.
Awesome story - glad you found our little world of die-hard Gopher fans who are accustomed to gut-wrenching loses, and hopefully you'll make the trek to Pasadena when we finally reach the mountaintop again! I hope you and your son have a blast! Just over a year ago, my Father and I made the opposite trip that you're making now and we went to your homeland to watch Wimbledon, which was a dream come true for us. We had a week of lifetime memories in your homeland at your country's finest sporting event and I hope you have a dream trip at our country's finest sporting event - the Gopher/UNLV game!!

Go Gophers!!
 

BarnBoy

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Someone from across the pond fell in love with college football and had the choice of over 100 Division I-A programs and intentionally chose the Gophers?

This is either a cruel joke or one of the coolest stories I have ever read.
 

Mvgopher

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You're more than welcome to join our tailgate starting at 2. PM if you're interested. Sounds like a great week.
 

spermophilus

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Someone from across the pond fell in love with college football and had the choice of over 100 Division I-A programs and intentionally chose the Gophers?

This is either a cruel joke or one of the coolest stories I have ever read.
Actually not SO unusual. My niece lived in England around a decade ago. In her efforts to acclimate, she became a fan of English Premier League (soccer), and specifically was an Everton fan. So we would have something to chat about over the holidays - I decided to pay some attention. And to make it more meaningful, I thought I would pick a team to follow, so as to make the whole thing more interesting and tangible. I selected the Bradford City Bantams . . . . . . Why? . . . . Their colors were . . . wait for it . . . maroon and gold! Although in the quintessential "British way", they said their team colors were "claret and amber". Well, old B.C. didn't have a very long stay in the Premier League, and has lived on the brink of potential financial collapse and folding. My niece moved back to states after a couple of years, and my interest waned.

That said, I think Johnob2's story is therefore both "cool" and not all that fanciful.

Let' have a pint on August 29th, Johnob2 !!!
 

Johnob2

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Someone from across the pond fell in love with college football and had the choice of over 100 Division I-A programs and intentionally chose the Gophers?

This is either a cruel joke or one of the coolest stories I have ever read.

Building from the inside out,

Brick by brick,

Third Year,

In Kill we Trust.

I am proud to follow the Gophers and honestly believe I am backing a winning program. We may have our setbacks but I believe we will be much more competitive in the B1G these next seasons.
By 2016/17, when the schedule is a bit more favourable, I say we have the Pig, the Axe and, if we can take the Jug via a kind of Berkley Edwards 'look what you're missing out on performance' we may even be smelling Roses (sorry for al the clichés).

Even if my predictions are wrong I will still be proud and loyal like you all are.

Thank you to the two posters that have invited me to tailgating - my son and I will be delighted to come and meet you if your group are okay with that. I've been to about 10 live football games previously and have a rough idea of my role as a fan in the stadium but I've not been tailgating before - so please bear with me if I'm a bit socially awkward to begin with. I will probably go into the stadium around 4pm though because I love watching the way everything is orchestrated from the initial warm-ups to the kickoff. We have so much to learn in the UK about the way you run the whole collegiate athletics experience and I am desperate to take in as much as I can.

Thanks also to the other contributors on this thread. I am overwhelmed by the time you have taken to help me and am massively looking forward to visiting your wonderful city.

It is very late at night in the UK and the wife is giving me that 'are you still on that flaming American Football' sort of a look that usually ends up with me having to attempt some form of home improvement to make amends. Better get to sleep. God bless.
 

AO54

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My main priority is to do as much as possible football related. Culture and other sports will be nice but a distant second.

Is the game at Washburn the best one for us to go to on the Friday? Was keen to see Jeff Jones play but understand he may be transferring?

Is there anything obvious I am missing that I could do sometime during the visit?
I suppose that depends on if you're renting a car or not. The best teams in the metro are playing the same time as the gophers, so it's tough to find good games, but in no particular order here are games/venues I would choose over Washburn:
-DeLaSalle vs St. Croix Lutheran (no worry about rental car here) - Reid Travis monster QB-might be the only one in the country at his position with his unique size/athleticism, not to mention his basketball ability
-Prior Lake vs Eagan - only schools playing on Friday from the highest division, possible gopher recruit Blake Weber at LB
-Owatonna vs Rochester Mayo - recent Gopher commit Andrew Stelter
-Any other small town Minnesota football game that might be on the way to another part of the state you want to visit; you can't go wrong.

Since you are visiting the land of 10,000 lakes in August, it would be almost criminal if you didn't get into/onto a lake. Since you have a teenage son, I'd recommend going tubing. http://www.tonkatubing.com/
 

Coolew01

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I suppose that depends on if you're renting a car or not. The best teams in the metro are playing the same time as the gophers, so it's tough to find good games, but in no particular order here are games/venues I would choose over Washburn:
-DeLaSalle vs St. Croix Lutheran (no worry about rental car here) - Reid Travis monster QB-might be the only one in the country at his position with his unique size/athleticism, not to mention his basketball ability
-Prior Lake vs Eagan - only schools playing on Friday from the highest division, possible gopher recruit Blake Weber at LB
-Owatonna vs Rochester Mayo - recent Gopher commit Andrew Stelter
-Any other small town Minnesota football game that might be on the way to another part of the state you want to visit; you can't go wrong.

Since you are visiting the land of 10,000 lakes in August, it would be almost criminal if you didn't get into/onto a lake. Since you have a teenage son, I'd recommend going tubing. http://www.tonkatubing.com/ [/

Agree or fishing since out of stats licenses are cheap.
 

RodentRampage

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It sounds like you have a pretty busy schedule, but you might like to stop at Minnehaha Falls. It's free, and it's on the light rail line. It's a 53 foot waterfall in the city.
 

BieberHole69

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Make sure to keep your eye on the logistics thread for the UNLV game to reduce any frustrations you could get trying to get around campus/Minneapolis that day. It's a very unusual day in the Twin Cities.
 

StickSalute

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I don't think I've seen anyone mention this specifically, but one really good idea if you have maybe 3 hours or so on a nice day would be to start down at Minnehaha Falls (which was mentioned) and rent a couple of the Nice Ride bikes. There's an amazing system of trails that go out from there (we are one of the best bike cities in the US). Probably my favorite ride would be to go along Minehaha Creek through the chain of lakes (Nokomis, Harriet, Calhoun, Lake of the Isles). It's basically entirely on bike paths, so no need to worry about traffic and almost entirely flat. Amazing scenery and Lake Calhoun is probably one of the most popular spots in Minneapolis on a nice summer day. From there you can either take the Midtown Greenway (one of, if not the best bike paths in the country) or take the Cedar Lake Trail which takes you right into downtown and underneath Target Field and ends out at the Mississippi and the Stone Arch bridge (which I would say is a must see). Then you just take West River Road straight back to Minnehaha. Or you could turn in the bikes in downtown and take the Light Rail back down there if you want. It would probably take minimum 3 hours (probably only 2 hours just biking, but you'd want to get off and explore some I'm sure). The area around the east end of the Stone Arch (St. Anthony-Main) is worth a stop for food. In my opinion, this is really the best way to see and experience the city.

Here's a map of the route, it's the best I could come up with. The dark green line right across the middle of the loop is the Midtown Greenway. And you could easily start anywhere on that loop, I just picked Minnehaha. There would be Nice Ride stations along a good portion of the route.
Bike Map.jpg
 

WorkingMyTailOff

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Sounds like a great time and you are super fan number 1 in my book!

I have two children that attend Washburn High and it is a nice place to watch a high school football game. Jeff Jones and Raymonte Maynard should be a dynamic duo running backs this year. The level of competition that Washburn will face won't be as good as some of the suburban schools, but it's a nice field in a good neighborhood only ~4 miles south of Downtown.

There is a really cool Kayaking thing on the Mississippi river now called Above the Falls. They offer 2.5 hour tours of the river right about St. Anthony Falls. Very cool and fun.

Also, if you are going to have a Jucy Lucy, it's "gotta" be Matt's. The atmosphere is Northern Minnesota tavern with strange gold wall paper and really simple but good burgers and fries. No plates, no ice, just burgers, fries, some good beers, and cans of soda for the youngsters.
 

bleedsmaroonandgold

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Great story. It sounds like you are getting plenty of invites, but feel free to swing by my tailgating spot for a bratwurst (we usually go wtih jalapeno chedderwurst). Also, if you have a car, the $10 tailgate by the river is pretty good. There are a bunch of alumni from the marching band who are pretty dedicated down there and a lot of fun to hang out with.
 

Rog

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JohnOB2 -

My wife and I have two extra seats next to us in the Premium seating section under cover and if you and your Son are interested, my e-mail is "rogbettin@earthlink.net"
 
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