It's food week in the Minnesota sports interwebs! I'm not just talking about TDG's Twin Cities Food Bracket(shameless plug is shameless). On Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings announced several local food partnerships that would improve the options available to fans at the new US Bank Stadium (via Daily Norseman):
World-famous chef Andrew Zimmern has been working with the Aramark Corporation on concessions for the new stadium, and he will be opening up a couple of places at the new stadium. There's the AZ Canteen, similar to the one that he brought to Target Field, as well as AZ Hoagies (which he will run with Chef Gavin Kaysen, and AZ Rotisserie.
In addition, the folks from Ike's Food and Cocktails will be selling Bloody Mary's and steak sandwiches at the stadium.
Most importantly. . .at least in this writer's opinion. . .the southern-themed restaurant Revival will have a presence at U.S. Bank Stadium as well. They'll be serving up their incredible fried chicken, as well as burgers, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese.
Yum! The Vikings are not alone. Anyone who has gone to a game at Target Field knows that the Twins have also done an excellent job partnering with local food standouts to deliver a wide variety of tasty local fare:
The offerings will include some hometown heroes, including pizzas from Pizza Lucé. In full bow to these times, Lucé will serve gluten-free and vegan options. Slices range from $5.50 for cheese or pepperoni to $6.50 for the "TC Bear" all-meat version. Even on a cold Tuesday, the pizzas were warm, fresh and moist.
Next to the pizza will be Red Cow, which was at the stadium last year but now offers two beef burgers, a turkey burger and poutine with fries, gravy and beef. Red Cow will sell the poutine ($12.50) as well as three popular burgers, including a $13 turkey burger.
That's just some of what was added to Target Field THIS YEAR (the Twins also use Aramark). There are plenty more delicious options around the park that have been in place for a while. By comparison, the offerings at TCF Bank Stadium are a little paltry.
That's not the biggest deal in the world, as college football stadiums have never been known as a foodie's paradise. In the grand scheme of things, Minnesota probably comes out ahead of many of it's peers in the B1G/beyond (or at the very least, stands equal...though Dilly Bars put them over the top for me).
Part of that is infrastructure. For example, Camp Randall has port-a-potties in several areas of the stadium. If Wisconsin can't deliver facilities with enough indoor plumbing for their fans, asking for them to deliver cheese curds on the level of those served at The Old Fashioned would be a bit much. I suspect part of it is cultural. College football is traditionally a tailgate sport. Many in the stadium have no need for fancier fare when they've been consuming grilled meat products all day.
I also have no doubt that a good part of it is cost. Aramark doesn't get the right to serve these recipes and signature items for free. They have to license them from the chefs and restaurants in the Twin Cities. Additionally, those folks want their food done in a way that doesn't sully their reputation, which means training and hiring costs for Aramark (and thus, the organization who hired them) as well. I'm sure colleges don't see a need to increase their expenses in that manner.
But let's assume it didn't have to be that way. Let's assume money was no object, the demand for better food at TCF was certain, and the stadium's concession facilities could handle any food request. In that world the University's stadium food vendor (also Aramark, I think) would be able to delight our taste buds with a much wider variety of options. There are plenty of cool local food choices within walking distance of TCF, not to mention within easy reach of the West Bank and St. Paul campuses. So...
If you had your way, what signature campus area food items would you like to see in TCF Bank Stadium?
For me the answer is simple.
Big 10 Restaurant. I would gladly pay a nice markup to enjoy a tasty Big 10 sub and some waffle fries during a game at TCF. This has the added bonus of being a food choice I think they could easily execute at TCF. I'm really interested to see what everyone else would choose.