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International Fans Connect with Vikings in Unique Ways
By Lindsey Young Feb 22, 2024

The Vikings fan base is a special one.

Of a tough and resilient nature that reflects their team, Vikings fans are also dedicated, loyal and deeply passionate. They help create an electric atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium, and they travel well to road games, too.

But what about those fans who travel great distances just to attend home games? The Vikings family truly reaches far beyond the Minnesota border – and even well beyond the United States.

In this longform, we'll introduce you to three of the Vikings most devoted international supporters: Howard, a Vikings Season Ticket Member from the U.K.; Kate, who lives 9,000 miles away in Australia; and Adam, a Canadian Vikings Season Ticket Member.

Howard Roberts: Englishman Endeared to Vikings Purple

Howard Roberts lives 5,000 miles from the Twin Cities.

And yet his ties to Minnesota run deep.

A United Kingdom native who's lived more than 25 years in Leeds, Yorkshire (located in the North of England), Howard is one of the most passionate Vikings fans you'll meet.

His unique fandom interestingly can be traced all the way back to 2001, when he spent a year working in the Cayman Islands, surrounded by warm weather, a stunning view … and an often spotty internet connection. Unable to follow his favorite English teams, Howard found himself watching the oft-televised NFL football, mainly by default, and falling in love with the sport.

Though he quickly became enamored with American football, it was 11 years before Howard adopted his NFL team of choice.

Howard's favorite band is The Hold Steady, an American rock band originally from Minneapolis, which he's seen play both in the U.K. and in the United States. It was after a small show at an intimate Leeds venue that Howard happened upon the band; Howard introduced himself, the group got to chatting, then imbibing, and the rest is history.

Howard Tailgating 1-2

In late December 2012, Howard and his partner traveled to New Jersey for The Hold Steady's concert and afterward caught up with Craig Finn – a Minnesota native and the band's lead singer, with whom he's formed the closest friendship.

"I was talking with Craig, and he said, 'I'm gonna introduce you to my brother-in-law Nick. … However, Nick is obsessed by the Minnesota Vikings – and I already know what's going to happen if I introduce you,' " Howard recounted. "Craig chooses his words very carefully, and he said, 'I caution you. This team may bring you despair. But there is plenty of room on our bandwagon.' "

Howard laughed as he recalled the conversation, knowing he'd be riding the Vikings roller coaster from that evening on.

"I've got one of the Legacy Bricks installed outside U.S. Bank Stadium," he noted with a smile. "It says, 'I joined the bandwagon.' "

Howard Tailgating 2

In it for the long haul

When Howard commits to something, he does so wholeheartedly.

And so it's been with the Vikings.

On Oct. 21, 2013, Howard attended his first Vikings game in the United States, a road matchup against the Giants at MetLife Stadium — remembered with the footnote of Josh Freeman's first – and only – start for Minnesota.

The outing certainly wasn't pretty. And yet, Howard's interest in the team didn't waver. He joined Nick for brunch the following morning and learned the longtime fan was about to renew his Vikings Season Tickets for the 2014 season, which would be the first of two seasons played outdoors at the University of Minnesota.

So, Howard bought a season ticket, too.

"My first game was the 2014 home opener against the Patriots," he said. "I can recall the game balls were delivered by people who parachuted down onto the [field].

"Despite the Vikings loss, I had the time of my life," Howard continued. "Nick introduced me to dozens of cool people, including our close friends Eylon and Thor, whose season tickets are near ours. We'd gone to a [nearby brewery] for early brunch pregame, and I'd never seen anything like it – everyone dressed in Vikings Purple, ready for a great day out."

Howard Gameday

Howard that day also met the "3 Tents and a Bus" tailgaters – a group of fans inspired by bus owners Robb and Stacy who cater for more than 40 people every home game. Most of them quickly developed into dear friends and remain as such after numerous trips.

"I adored the people who were all built for fun, kindness and friendship," he said. "Everyone I met was so kind and welcoming. 'Minnesota Nice' is truly a reality and wonderful phenomenon."

Over the past 11 seasons, Howard has only deepened his rich love for the team.

He's unable to attend every game, of course, as it means traveling first from Leeds to Amsterdam, then taking the nine-plus-hour flight to Minnesota. But Howard typically visits the States for two to three games, at minimum, each season.

Howard spends time tailgating with his Vikings fan friends who have become more like family. There's Thor, Nick and Eylon, of course, as well as Stacy and Robb and the Nybergs.

"Plus, there are various Season Ticket Members around us in Section 208 – special mention to our mates Angel and his wife Brittany," Howard said. "The steward of our section, Don Lewansky, was always a treat to see on each visit until he fell ill in 2021."

Howard circles matchups when the NFL schedule comes out and plans entire weekends – and sometimes longer if the Vikings host back-to-back home games – around the event.

Howard USBS

He often makes time to see the Twins if they have a home game, citing the several similarities between baseball and cricket, or attends a Minnesota United match.

"I was lucky enough to see the Minnesota Wild last season," Howard said. "I had little clue about the rules of ice hockey, but the speed of the game was enthralling."

Add in visits to Twin Cities bars and restaurants, plus last summer's trip to the Minnesota State Fair where The Hold Steady headlined one night at the Grandstand, and Howard's trips are certainly never dull.

"I do like myself a bit of mischief," he said, laughing. "And laughter and fun. If there isn't laughter and fun, I tend to get bored quite quickly."

Howard Tailgating 3

Back to London

As much as Howard delights in his trips to Minnesota, he also is thrilled when NFL football – and specifically the Vikings – makes its way across the pond.

Howard attended Minnesota's 2013, 2017 and 2022 games in London, all wins, and is already anticipating the Vikings return trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium during the 2024 season.

He looks forward to warmly hosting those friends who have welcomed him with open arms for more than a decade, and to showing them around London and its rich history. For instance, one of his favorite pubs in the city, the Seven Stars on Holborn's Carey Street, is among the few buildings that survived the Great London Fire of 1666.

"They are still serving great Guinness to this day, and we will take a trip there," Howard said. "On game day, we'll go to a brilliant pub about 10 minutes' walk from the ground. We filled it with Purple before and after the Saints game in 2022."

Howard with Matt Kalil

He also hopes to connect with the U.K. Vikings Fan Club, noting the group "does some sterling work" in London.

It doesn't bother Howard that we don't yet know the Vikings opponent for that game – though his guesses are the Texans or Jets – as he's most excited to simply spend time with his Vikings family and watch his beloved team.

"I am, of course, just glad that London is only 220 miles away via train service," he quipped.

But no matter the distance, the Vikings and their fanbase will forever hold a special place in Howard's heart.

"I think Minnesota and its people truly remain one of the world's great undiscovered secrets," he said with a smile.

Kate Buringrud: SKOL Sister Across the World

Kate B Teaching 4-2

Most Monday mornings during the NFL season, Kate Buringrud wakes up at 5 a.m., prepares a cup of tea and settles in to listen to the Vikings game.

It might seem brutally early to most. But living in Melbourne, Australia, those are the hours she must keep to tune in live for a noon (CT) Sunday kickoff.

"I'm generally an early bird," Kate said, her warm smile evident even through a phone call.

Living more than 9,000 miles away from her beloved team, Kate is grateful for the ability to stream KFAN through her iHeart Radio app, where she listens to "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen.

"He's just so fun to listen to," Kate said. "He's got this comment about the 'tush push,' and I just go, 'Oh my gosh, that is so funny.' I love Paul Allen."

She also keeps up with the team through the Vikings app and the in-game live chat, where she's enjoyed conversation with other long-distance fans.

You might be wondering at this point, however, how an avid Vikings fan came to live halfway around the world.

It all started in 1973 when, at 22 years old, Kate had never even been on an airplane – let alone much considered international travel.

Kate B with Everson-3

From Minnesota to Melbourne

She'd lived her entire life in Minnesota, first in Thief River Falls – a small town known for its big-time hockey – and then in Moorhead, where she attended Minnesota State, Moorhead.

Growing up in a city recognized for its high school hockey arena, Kate seemingly always was surrounded by athletics.

"We were a sporty town," she said.

Except when it came to opportunities for female athletes.

Attending high school in the 1960s, Kate and her girlfriends yearned to play high school sports but weren't allowed.

"One of my classmates who was really good at tennis and golf. They wouldn't let her play on the boys' tennis team, even though she was better than all the boys. And they didn't have any sports teams for the girls," Kate remembered. "She later became the athletic director for the North Dakota State University after being a sports star at university."

Though Kate was unable to play organized sports, she loved watching them just the same. And as she grew older, she discovered NFL football and the Minnesota Vikings.

Kate became enamored with Head Coach Bud Grant's teams and their gritty play, especially that of the defense featuring the Purple People Eaters.

Having only watched games on television, Kate clearly remembers the first time she saw two of her favorite players in person. While at college, she and some friends were eating lunch when two towering individuals suddenly strolled into the cafeteria.

Kate immediately recognized Jim Marshall and Carl Eller, who had come to campus as guest speakers.

She observed the Vikings teammates from across the room, marveling at their real-life size.

"It made you realize, 'These guys are actually huge,' " Kate laughed. "They stood up from the table, and they went up and up and up. The table looked like a little coffee table next to them.

"They had these shoulder bags, and somebody said, 'I bet nobody tries to take their bags away from them,' " she added.

Kate never interacted with Marshall or Eller that day, but the experience nonetheless deepened her admiration for the Vikings and their players.

Kate B watching Super Bowl-2

She closely followed the team throughout her time in college and through graduating with a degree in Physical Education.

Kate applied for teaching jobs all around the United States but found the industry was simply oversaturated, with 300-plus applications flowing in for each opening. That's when her boyfriend's mother told them about a unique opportunity called the Victorian Education Selection Program, where recruiters traveled the States to find qualified teachers willing to work in Australia.

"My boyfriend was an English major, and he dragged me up to the University of North Dakota where he went for an interview with this woman. He also talked me into interviewing," Kate said. "In the end, he didn't get the position, but I did.

"They needed people in the practical areas. English teachers came from England, right? So woodwork, home ec, geography, history – those types of things. Plus, physical education and health were needed in the state of Victoria," Kate continued. "And because my boyfriend had long hair, he was too Bohemian-looking for them to recruit. They just wanted conservative-looking, you know, they didn't want to send any 'crazy Americans' to Australia."

So just like that, a young woman who had never left the Midwest took a train to Chicago to obtain a migrant visa, then flew by herself to San Francisco. From there, she traveled to Hawai'i, then Sydney and then Melbourne.

Upon arrival in Australia, teachers from the States were assigned to their schools in Victoria.

"It was a big deal to be an American in Australia at that time. We had the same accent as movie stars and stuff," Kate said. "I still like having a different accent. I was in the United States last year, and it was like, 'This is awful because I sound like everyone else.' I like having an accent."

Kate B Teaching-2

Where her heart is

Kate taught for the duration of her two-year program and then, due to her visa status, returned to the States.

Before she did, however, Kate and a British friend made sure to see the world. The young women traveled to Singapore from Australia, then went through Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. They stopped in Greece to catch up with other friends who had taught in Australia, and then Kate flew to Germany to see her brother and sister, both of whom were stationed there with the U.S. Army. She then flew back to the States and returned to Thief River Falls, where she moved back in with her parents.

But it quickly became apparent that she'd left her heart in Australia.

Kate went on to spend the next four years working on getting her visa reinstated. During that time, she attended her first – and so far, only – Vikings game in 1978.

She still laughs about the experience and how bitterly cold outdoor football was at Metropolitan Stadium.

"It was freezing. Snow had been plowed to the sidelines, and the players stood along the sidelines without any shelter," Kate said. "We were in the stands, and I remember that I was wearing my violet-colored snowmobile suit – just a grown-up version of a kid's snowsuit.

"We huddled together and passed thermos after thermos of coffee spiked with whiskey or other alcohol," she continued. "I don't think I could concentrate much on the game, except to keep clapping and cheering by pounding my feet to keep the circulation going."

She added: "I don't think we even stayed for the entire game! That was rugged stuff."

Despite the temperatures that day, Kate remains thankful she saw her Vikings play in person before relocating permanently back to Australia.

Kate B Teaching 2-2

From Australia, with love

Since returning to the Land Down Under, Kate has continued to live her passion as a physical education teacher.

From gymnastics and badminton to cricket and track-and-field, Kate enjoys sharing her love of athletics with her students.

"I have an all-around approach, and I've gotten to teach a lot of things," she explained. "Often in Australia, physical education teachers native to the country are elite athletes. I worked with a guy who's on the Commonwealth badminton team, a guy who's on the Australian lacrosse team and a woman whose sister won the gold medal in water polo.

"But they couldn't teach all the sports … and I could," Kate added. "Of course I had to learn how to teach footie, cricket and lacrosse – I played lacrosse to learn it. … Perhaps those are stories for another day."

"Footy," as Kate learned early on, is the nickname for Australian Rules Football (AFL).

"I do now have to stay it's the best football game in the world," Kate said. "I absolutely love it. Here, they call American football 'gridiron.' There is now a whole league here, and I've been to a game."

When Kate first arrived in Australia, she told friends and coworkers about American football and the NFL.

"They used to say, 'Oh, that game. It's just so stop-and-start.' Like footie, if you watch footie, it's more like keep-away. It's constant. Kicking, running – everything is constant," Kate explained. "Whereas [American football], I have to explain there's this whole tactical thing that goes on."

Kate has found other NFL fans during her time in Australia, though they're not necessarily fellow Vikings fans.

"But people who know me and know I'm from Minnesota will comment, 'The Vikings did this,' or they'll share what they heard about the team," Kate said. "They know I'm from Minnesota, because I always reference things like 3M, or Spam, or tell them it's where the Mississippi starts."

Kate always was a fan of Fran Tarkenton when he led the Vikings, and she's most recently been a supporter of Kirk Cousins and his success with Minnesota.

"I watch the sports here, of course – right now it's tennis and test cricket – but I always will still follow my Minnesota teams," Kate said. "Most of the Vikings games are on at, like, 5 o'clock in the morning Mondays.

"I also love listening to the Wild. The ice hockey games are on later. They're usually on here at 10, 11 or 12 o'clock here," she said. "But if they're on at 6 o'clock, I'm up listening. I listen to Joe [O'Donnell] and Tom [Reid].

"I love listening to my teams on KFAN," Kate added. "It always gives me a feeling of home."

Adam Neustaedter: Sharing NFL Passion with Others

In 2013, Adam Neustaedter was invited on a trip to Minnesota that would forever impact the lifelong sports fan.

Adam's company rented a tour bus from his hometown of Steinbach, Manitoba, to Minneapolis, where the group attended the Vikings Week 3 game against the Browns.

Though Adam had been an NFL fan for a while and had previously attended a Packers-Colts game at Lambeau Field with a family member, the game against Cleveland at the Metrodome marked his first-ever Vikings game.

Minnesota lost a heartbreaker that day when Brian Hoyer threw a touchdown pass to seal a Browns win with under a minute remaining. But nonetheless, Adam was hooked.

"I just had such an awesome time at that game," he said.

Adam later talked to his dad, noting that 2013 was the Vikings final season in the Metrodome.

"They were building this new venue that would be U.S. Bank Stadium, and my dad said, 'It would be really cool to have tickets in that new building," he recalled.

So just like that, Adam became a Vikings Season Ticket Member.

He did so in time for two seasons of outdoor football at the University of Minnesota before U.S. Bank Stadium opened for the 2016 campaign.

"We had a lot of fun outside – though we got a little cold at the end of the season," laughed Adam. "But then when we moved to U.S. Bank Stadium it was like, 'Oh, this is absolutely amazing.' It was just so much fun to be there and cheer with so many likeminded fans."

Adam N with Friends-2

Adam, who has four seats for each home game, called it a "pretty easy decision" to become a Season Ticket Member.

"I love taking people to football games. I like people to experience how amazing the energy is and how well the NFL does – and especially how great the Vikings do it," he said. "I've been to Lambeau, and I've been to Arrowhead, and I just feel like U.S. Bank delivers something that's very special and very fun. The Vikings could be getting [beat] and it's still an entertaining event, even if the football isn't the best in the world.

"Bringing people to their first NFL game or bringing people to see their favorite team, or other Vikings fans, being able to cheer with my friends, it's just so fun," Adam continued. "The atmosphere is great, and the stadium is awesome."

He noted the camaraderie that develops among seat neighbors, even though they aren't able to attend every single game.

"The guy who has the tickets beside me, Ricardo, is from Mexico City. He flies out for a couple games a year, and he's sweet. It's been fun getting to know him a little … you get to check in with them when you're both at the game," Adam said. "It feels like a community."

While a trip to Minneapolis isn't as lengthy for Adam as for other international fans, the seven-hour drive still requires planning and a weekend commitment.

Plus, he joked, trips can take longer depending on how many times he and his wife stop at a favorite store of theirs en route.

"We're expecting a baby this spring, so we make quite a few stops when we come down," Adam said. "And as soon as I found out we're having a girl, it was like, 'Ordered. Pink Vikings onesie on the way.' "

Adam N with Stuart-2

When the Vikings schedule is released each spring, Adam eyes the contests he'd most like to attend that best fit into his work schedule. Monday and Thursday night games typically don't make the cut, while any matchups that fit into a long weekend are circled immediately.

He also prioritizes September and October home games, before snowfall or icy roads could threaten his drive from Canada.

While Adam wishes he could attend every game, he does enjoy the opportunity to gift the tickets to friends or work clients when he's unable to make the trip.

"I try not to sell them, because they usually end up being sold to the opposing team, which I don't like," he noted.

At home in Manitoba, Adam's closet is lined with numerous Vikings jerseys he's purchased over the years.

"It gets expensive," he admitted with a laugh. "But I feel like I have new favorite players every season. I loved when we had [Eric] Kendricks. He was the best. From the time we drafted him until he left, he was just awesome. Adam Thielen was incredible, and Harrison Smith has been a constant for us. Chad Greenway, Kyle Rudolph.

"Because I'm a fan, I'm a fan of everybody on the field. I like everybody," Adam added. "I have a hard time when fans say, 'We need to get rid of this guy,' and I'm like, 'But I like that guy.' Even if we're not winning. I like him."

Adam N Colts comeback-2

Adam keeps tabs on the team through the Vikings app and on American TV channels. He especially appreciates seeing coverage of what players are doing off the field to give back.

"We see when they're in the community, and it's awesome," he said. "You get really invested into them as human beings, not just football players. There feels like more of a connection like, 'Oh, I feel like I actually know these people.' "

Adam often attends games with his wife, whom he said joined the bandwagon in support.

"She's in because I'm in," he laughed. "But she loves going to the games in-person. … She loves how fun the atmosphere is or when there are halftime shows that feature T-Pain or Ludacris.

"She [started following] the Chiefs a little bit this past season because of the whole Taylor Swift thing, which I didn't like," Adam added, before quipping. "She would ask, 'When do the Chiefs play?' And I'd tell her, 'It doesn't matter. We're Vikings fans.' "

Joking with his wife good-naturedly just adds to the experience for Adam, whose fandom is centered on quality time with family and friends.

On road game weeks, Adam and his wife typically offer an open invitation to their home for a Vikings watch party.

"I tell my friends, 'Hey, if you're not doing anything Sunday afternoon, come down and watch the game with me. Unfortunately you will have to watch the Vikings game even if you're cheering for a different team,' " Adam explained. "One friend will ask, 'What are you doing after church?' 'Well, I'm watching the Vikings – you should come down and I'll order pizza or something.' Usually people swing by, and even if they don't stay for the whole game, or if they stay through the afternoon game, too, that's awesome.

"So much is just about community and friendship for me," Adam added. "Whether we're complaining or we're excited and cheering, it's a bonding point. It's special."

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