Cheer for the Vikings, Twins & More Minnesota Sports Teams
By Erica Wacker
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Minnesota is one of the select U.S. states that has a professional team in every major sport. In addition to the big guys, club and college teams provide even more entertainment. Whether you love NBA basketball, NCAA hockey or roller derby, you can watch top athletes compete at venues around the state.
In the fall and winter, Minnesota has three home teams to root for. The Minnesota Vikings play at one of the newest NFL stadiums, U.S. Bank Stadium, which in addition to hosting home Vikings games has played host to the ESPN Summer X Games, 2019 NCAA Final Four, 2018 Super Bowl, and big-name concerts in the offseason. The team also has a new practice facility in the suburb of Eagan, complete with a Vikings Museum and training camps open to the public.
At Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, the Minnesota Timberwolves take the court against their NBA rivals. Single-game tickets start as low as $11, and packages including food as well as kids days make going to a game fun for the whole family. In the summer, the Minnesota Lynx WNBA team plays here; they won the championship in 2017, 2015, 2013 and 2011.
The Minnesota Wild play NHL hockey at Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. Hockey is a time-honored tradition in Minnesota, and fans are passionate about their team. Get to the arena early for happy hour, which includes drink specials before every home game. Just down the street, the National Women's Hockey League's newest expansion team, the Minnesota Whitecaps, play October-March at the TRIA Rink.
Come spring, it’s time to play ball—baseball, that is. The beloved Minnesota Twins play outdoors at Target Field, regularly named one of the top 10 MLB stadiums in the country. Take in the views of the Minneapolis skyline and sample some of the unique fare, including local craft beers, walleye and chips, and a bloody mary that in past years has been adorned with a slider or a slice of pizza.
The Minnesota United FC play Major League Soccer at the state's newest stadium, Allianz Field in St. Paul. Minnesota was without a top-division soccer team for almost 40 years, and to say the United joining MLS in 2017 was exciting is a massive understatement. Home games are loud, rowdy and welcoming, thanks to the league's notorious fan groups who stand and chant all game long.
Minnesota is home to colleges of all sizes, many of which have student athletes competing in everything from volleyball to gymnastics. The University of Minnesota is part of the Big 10 Conference, with major sports including Gopher football, basketball, hockey, wrestling, and swimming and diving. Other campuses in the U of M system that have intercollegiate teams include Duluth (Bulldogs), Crookston (Golden Eagles) and Morris (Cougars).
The Minnesota State Universities are also known for their athletics. Teams include the Winona State Warriors, Bemidji State Beavers, St. Cloud State Huskies, Minnesota State Mavericks (in Mankato) and MSUM Dragons (in Moorhead). Private schools get in on the action, too, with big rivalries between St. Thomas, St. John's, St. Olaf and others in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Clubs & Other Leagues
CHS Field in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood is the home of the St. Paul Saints, and brings a taste of the majors to this minor league franchise. Tickets start at $5, and game days are all about fun: Look for fireworks shows, between-inning antics, and a cast of entertaining characters. Other club baseball teams around the state include the Duluth Huskies, Rochester Honkers and Mankato MoonDogs.
If you've never seen a roller derby bout live, now's the time. The Minnesota RollerGirls consists of four teams, who battle it out at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul. The North Star Roller Girls have a similar multiteam format and compete at the Minneapolis Convention Center. There are also active leagues in Fargo-Moorhead, Duluth, Bemidji, Rochester and more. The Minnesota Wind Chill are a professional ultimate frisbee team based in St. Paul.
For amateur sports, it doesn't get much better than the National Sports Center in Blaine. The largest of its kind in the country, the facility hosts hundreds of events every year on its 50 athletic fields, eight ice rinks, artificial turf stadium and links golf course. The biggest event is the annual USA Cup, which welcomes over 1,000 high school soccer teams from around the world every July.
Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.
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