From Game 1 to 324 and Everything in Between

2013 Vikings Final Game Playbook | Feature of J. Forrest | By Mike Wobschall and J. Forrest

This past Sunday marked the final game at Mall of America Field, the stadium the Vikings have called home since 1982. Many fans have seen many great moments in this building. But J. Forrest, a passionate Vikings fan from Minneapolis, can lay claim to a unique feat: He was in the building for the first Vikings game and he will be here for the final Vikings game in the building. Forrest has been gracious enough to share his thoughts on this feat and all the memories he and his family made while watching games in this building.

Vikings final dome gameWhether it was the cold or the crowd or perhaps my persistence, at some point my mom relinquished her Viking ticket and let me assume the regular seat next to my dad. We said “Farewell to the Met” in December of 1981 while wearing moon boots and snowmobile suits. Our game day rituals were about to change.

It was August 1982 and my dad and I were headed to the Metrodome and looking for a new place to park.  We settled on the IDS where he parked during the week. My dad was a fast walker.   I’m not sure when speed walking became a competitive endeavor, but he missed his athletic calling and I learned how to jog.  He walked and I jogged the 10 blocks to Gate F.

We had our tickets torn and it seemed just the same, but the revolving door ushered in a new experience.  We grabbed a program that said,  ”Welcome to the Metrodome” and made our way upstairs.  It felt foreign and new and the floors were shiny.

When we found our seats in Section 208, we looked down at the field and shared a big smile.  The Vikings and Seahawks barely scored, but we “kicked the tires” on our new home, felt odd about being so warm at a football game and enjoyed the wonder of it all.  I remember almost falling over as I got sucked out of the dome.  My all-too-warm hands grasped my ticket stub tightly to avoid its liftoff to Chicago Avenue.   I saved that ticket stub in what was formerly an NFL pencil holder.

Three weeks later we returned and watched the opener against the Buccaneers.  #9 Tommy Kramer led us to victory in the air-conditioner-less dome and a Dome field Advantage was born.

Over the years, I have some great memories of watching the Vikings play here.  Later, in 1982, a guy with a drum and crazy hair got us to stand in concert.  This decidedly un-Minnesotan was able to get 60,000 people to perform The Wave.

So much of football is about the numbers.  My favorite games and moments were as much who I went with as what happened on the turf.  The numbers trigger the memory.  As a 7th grader, I took my friend Jason to his first game.  I remember him asking every pop vendor how much they were charging.  Each one of them said $2.25.  It wasn’t until the 3rd quarter that he finally popped for the pop.

As a 20 year-old, I remember a desperation pass by McMahon #9 that landed in the hands of a receiver I didn’t know.  His name was Guiliford and he wore #84.   His catch secured a last minute win against the Packers, as I looked at my college roommate in absolute disbelief.

In my late 20’s, I loved watching #80 go vertical on the sidelines to make an amazing catch every other possession while sitting next to the girl I would later marry.  The only thing that could top the toe tapping was the absolute silence of anticipation of a 50-yard pass to another guy wearing #84.

As a 34 year-old, I watched history with my brother-in-law Jerry as #28 Adrian Peterson ran for nearly 300 yards.

As a 40 year-old, I sit here today taking my own kids to their first game as they wear my old #28 and #44 jerseys that are as much Rashad and Peterson as they are Foreman and Asiata.

People say watching the game at home is better and for convenience sake they are probably right.  But to stand in unison with 60,000 people as a pass gets lobbed down the sidelines to a guy wearing #84, you simply cannot beat being here in person.

I am honored to know that my 1982 ticket will reappear in the Vikings Hall of Fame, thrilled to see Mortenson Construction put more than shovels in the ground and hopeful to see a Super Bowl Victory Parade very soon!

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