While the tailgating experience looks to improve with the construction of the new Vikings stadium in a few years, fans will have a new way to party and get ready for games at the Metrodome: Railgating.

In an effort to "add more sizzle" to the festivities before and after games at the Metrodome, the City of Minneapolis has partnered with the Minnesota Vikings and about a dozen food vendors to set up a "railgating" party along two blocks of the Hiawatha light rail line that runs near the Metrodome. The railgating party would offer food and activities for not only light rail commuters and other fans coming to the game, but also give people a reason to head downtown for the game.

According to the Star Tribune, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak sees a lot of promise in the plan to grow the level of activities downtown around Vikings games. He had the following to offer about the idea:

We're encouraging people to come downtown and be part of the street life and come in and watch the game or have fun in a bar and restaurant instead of watching it in their living room...We want people to come to the game but spend time here before and after.

The eventual hope is to turn Fifth Street leading from the west side of the Metrodome, heading into downtown, into a "Purple Path" full of places for Vikings fans to eat, drink, and be merry during football season.

The Vikings are excited about the idea as well. Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley offered the following to the Star Tribune about the plan:

It makes a lot of sense. It's a little bit of an experiment and we'll see how it shakes out. But anything that enhances the game-day experience and brings more people down to the stadium early is a good thing.

The first of these railgating experiences will take place for this weekend's game as the Vikings play host to the San Francisco 49ers. Vendors will start setting up around 7 am and will be open until 1 pm. Look for the party to evolve and grow through the season, and look for more ideas like this in the future. Minneapolis city officials say they hope to continue to create buzz around the team and that area of town leading up to the opening of the new stadium on the current Metrodome site in 2016.


[Star Tribune]