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Vikings Players Wowed By U.S. Bank Stadium

MINNEAPOLIS — The eyes of Alex Boone saw a Viking ship ready for its maiden voyage.

The left guard marveled at the exterior of U.S. Bank Stadium on his first visit, even wondering if he was the only one who saw the resemblance of a ship at sea.

"This is probably a weird thing to say, but when you're looking at it from the outside it's just so interesting," Boone said. "I was talking to Lester (Bagley, the Vikings Executive Vice President - Public Affairs & Stadium Development) and I said, it looks like a Viking ship to me, am I wrong?

"And he was like, it can look like whatever you want it to look like," Boone added. "Which I think is a nice way of saying you're wrong. But I was like, it looks like a Viking ship from the side."

Boone was relieved when informed that the image of a ship was a popular thought. 

"OK, so I'm not the only one," Boone said. "I'm like most normal people."

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph had a similarly breathtaking moment on the inside of the 1.75-million-square-foot stadium.

Joseph, who is smack in the middle of the action on each play along the line of scrimmage, said he walked most of the concourses and couldn't find a bad seat in the house.

"To be honest with you, I've been around this whole stadium," Joseph said. "I've sat in the stands, and the view is amazing.

"Even though you're sitting in the stands, I almost feel like I am on the field and can still touch everything," he added. "That's the view you want to see when you're watching a football game." 

Boone and Joseph were two of several players who toured the stadium and discussed it during multimedia interviews Thursday morning.

John Sullivan is one of more than two dozen Vikings players still on the roster from the days of the Metrodome, which closed after the 2013 season. 

For Sullivan, the first impression of U.S. Bank Stadium was quite memorable.

U.S. Bank Stadium was host to several local and national radio shows on Thursday.

"If you think back to the old Metrodome, that was a great building with great memories," Sullivan said. "It's amazing that we're on the same site.

"I'd seen pictures on Instagram like everyone else, but this was my first time over here," he added. "It just blows you away, and I'm excited for the fan base. I think they'll help us win a heck of a lot of football games."

Some players such as Sullivan were experiencing the Vikings new digs for the first time. Others like Everson Griffen and Adam Thielen had been here before when the stadium was 90 percent complete.

With training camp a week away, players explored the locker room, field and the press box. They conducted interviews in Mystic Lake's Club Purple, a 10,000-plus square foot lounge that features purple couches and VIP boxes, and also experienced the Delta Sky360⁰ Club, which consists of a walkway that players will use on game days to get from the locker room to the field just a few feet from fans.

Each player had his own reaction to the stadium that will host its first preseason game on Aug. 28 against San Diego. The Vikings first home game of the regular season is a Week 2 tilt against the Packers on Sept. 18.

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd quipped that he was late to his media commitments because he kept finding something new that caught his eye.

"I was blown away as soon as I got here," Floyd said. "I was on time, but I was 30 minutes late because I couldn't stop looking around and peeking in doors."

Linebacker Chad Greenway has vivid memories of Vikings fans making it difficult for opposing teams to communicate and call plays at the Metrodome.

Greenway said he was wowed by the intimate features of the new stadium but said the Minnesota faithful will be counted on to help make a difference on game days.

"When it comes down to crunch time and you need to get loud on third down or you need a stop, you need to have a home-field advantage," Greenway said. "You need to have it where your offensive guys feel comfortable handling the ball and you play your best at home.

"It's going to be hard to create that in the first year because it's our first time playing here, too," he added. "At first it will be a little different, but I think we'll be able to gain that home-field (advantage) as we continue to play here."

Besides being enthralled with the ship-like design of U.S. Bank Stadium, Boone said he was also impressed with the spacious locker room, especially a prominent Norseman logo on the ceiling in the center of the space.

"I think that's a very special thing," Boone said. "I've always believed you should never step on your logo, so for them to do that … they get it here. This is football at its finest."

Thielen, a Minnesota native, recalled going to plenty of Vikings games as a kid. But he was blown away by the roof made of ethylene tetraflouroethylene (ETFE), which allows in an abundance of natural light.

"Being inside but feeling like you're outside, that was the thing that popped," Thielen said. "And obviously the (video) screens are pretty enormous."

Tight end Kyle Rudolph visited the stadium, as did tight end and Minnesota native Brian Leonhardt, who never played in the Metrodome in high school but is in position to play on the same site in the state-of-the-art stadium in a little more than a month.

Even Griffen, who saw the stadium only a few weeks ago, said he was more than impressed with the finished product.

"It makes the season a lot better, makes you more motivated," Griffen said. "I can't wait to be able to run out on that field."

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