As I looked out the window of my office a couple of weeks ago, I realized that “it” was really happening. After years of tireless efforts from hundreds, if not thousands of people, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings was finally under construction. It’s kind of funny though…after all of these years of waiting and hoping for the stadium approval, the actual beginning of the construction process really wasn’t very glamorous at all. Sure, the ceremonial groundbreaking had all of the dignitaries, fireworks, gold shovels and Vikings hard hats that you would expect, but when all of the pomp and circumstance was over, you simply had two excavators sitting in an empty parking lot.
Later that day as I watched the two excavators start to scratch and claw at the tired, old Dome’s parking lot, I wondered if the men operating those excavators had any idea of the magnitude of what they were doing. While these men may have thought that this was just another day at work and the start of another long construction project, the reality couldn’t have been any farther from the truth. These men weren’t just starting construction of a new stadium…they were beginning to build a new collection of memories for the next generation of Minnesotans. Memories that will become instilled in the hearts of everyone who steps into our wonderful new stadium. And while facilities like Metropolitan Stadium and Mall of America Field have been part of the fabric of Minnesota for over 50 years, so too will our new stadium. For it is not the buildings themselves that we cling to, but the experiences that were shared inside of these iconic structures. Every day, I hear stories of family and friends that have gathered for big games, family reunions or just weekly tailgates at our beloved stadiums. Some folks talk about how they battled the cold and snow at “The Met”, while others can’t resist a smile when they think about getting blown out of the Dome’s doorways. I bet many of you remember what seat you were sitting in when Ahmad Rashad caught Tommy Kramer’s Hail Mary to win the 1980 Central Division Championship or when
As I headed home that night, the two excavators continued to eat away at the parking lot…their operators steady at the controls. Although these men may not be thinking about it while they work, they are forever linked to the next generation of Vikings football and the home that they are building for us.
J. P. Paul was named the Vikings’ Director of New Stadium Corporate Development in November 2013 after spending 11 seasons leading the team’s Premium Seating department. He works in the 1010 building across from the Metrodome which provides him with a unique perspective on the new Vikings stadium's creation.