The University of Minnesota is one of the biggest universities in America with a student body upwards of 51,000 people. Comprising locations in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Golden Gophers sports teams, always cheered on by Goldy Gopher, are the main attraction for most visitors to the UMN campus.
The Gophers are Big Ten members in most sports, with one exception being women's ice hockey where they are a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Hockey is often where the Gophers excel most, with their men's and women's teams boasting double-digit national championship titles between them.
For RVers looking to catch a game with a fun tailgating experience, then the Golden Gophers football team should be on any list. While the weather in the Twin Cities is certainly not something that should be taken lightly, there is something about tailgating in the snow with fellow RVers around a hot grill that is both a bonding and a bucket list experience.
University of Minnesota sports are fun for all ages. Taking in a game of football or basketball as part of an RV trip through some of the Northern States is a fun idea for a fall getaway. Pack up your rig and head to Minnesota for some cold-weather fun and time with the Golden Gophers.
Tickets for Minnesota sporting events can be found on the Golden Gophers website. Tickets go quickly, with many being allocated to students, boosters, and season ticket holders, so make sure to plan your trip well in advance to get the best available seats. This is especially true for football games against big rivals in the Big Ten such as the Wisconsin Badgers and the Iowa Hawkeyes. After tickets are purchased be sure to see if they come with a parking pass or if that is something that needs to be sourced out separately.
The University of Minnesota and city officials have a comprehensive traffic management plan for football game days. There will be officers at key intersections on the approach to TCF Bank Stadium, helping to direct traffic and allow fans to walk safely in the area. Look for electronic message signs to guide your parking choices with up to date information on full and available lots.
Traffic signals in the area will also be impacted, with pre-game signals favoring inbound traffic and post-game favoring outbound vehicles. Parking north of the stadium may be easiest to reach from Highway MN-280, while south of the stadium parking is best accessed from Huron Avenue or Washington Avenue.
The three main event arenas are TCF Bank Stadium for football, 3M Arena at Mariucci for Gopher Hockey, and Williams Arena for basketball, volleyball, and wrestling.
Football is the big draw for RVers and creates the most parking issues, with the smaller sports much more able to handle the number of vehicles in their parking lots.
Season ticket holders have the first shot at parking with their season passes. There are single-game parking facilities available between $10 and $20 depending on the lot with a first-come-first-served basis.
For Gopher fans looking to tailgate, the State Fairgrounds Lot S108 is the place to be. This is also the only official RV lot, with rigs able to be parked for around $40 on game day.
Free fan shuttles run from St. Paul to TCF Bank Stadium and back on game days, and these are the best way to get around the city after parking the RV. The shuttle goes to Lot S108, the only RV parking lot, so getting to the game is easy and free. Shuttles run about every 10 minutes from three hours before the game and then continuously after a game until the crowd is cleared from the stadium.
If the shuttle doesn't run to where you need to begin your day, then the Campus Connector and University Avenue Circulator bus services will also be running on game day. Buses do not have set hours before and after the game.
Overnight parking is not offered on campus at the University of Minnesota. There are many RV campgrounds and parking facilities in and around the Twin Cities. Find an RV park that suits what you are your family are looking to take in along with the sporting event you are attending.
Golden Gopher fans will have plenty of options when it comes to staying near UMN with an RV. Town and Country RV Park & Campground is a good option within an easy 30-minute driving distance of the stadium.
Staying further out will give you a much better feel for how wild Minnesota can be, but it may not come with modern conveniences. Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve offers a great mix of location and the water fun that Minneapolis is known for during the summer months. Minneapolis Northwest KOA is about a 40-minute drive from campus near I-94.
The best way to get around during a U of M tailgating event is by foot or on a bike. While the campus is spread out, most of the festivities on game day are located close to the stadium or by reach from the continually running shuttle buses. If you want to venture a little further out, then getting on a bike to explore some of the unofficial tailgating parties is always a fun and interesting option.
Layer up if you are attending any Minnesota game from fall until winter. The air this far north is very, very cold, and fans not accustomed to the weather may chill quickly without the right preparation. The morning and evenings are coldest, so be wrapped up first thing to enjoy the tailgate. Wear hats, gloves, scarves, and heavy coats in the winter, with thick or wool socks as the concrete of the stadium can amplify the frigid conditions.
Spend the whole day enjoying the experience by planning to tailgate early, have fun at the stadium watching the game, then enjoy the evening with other Golden Gopher fans. Clothing and gear items representing the University of Minnesota includes maroon and gold, but avoid black and gold (Iowa) and red and white (Wisconsin). Seat cushions and blankets are ideal items to take into the stadium to try to stave off that Arctic chill.
Basic first aid supplies should always be in the RV, and they should always be checked before a trip to make sure they have not expired. Pain killers and band-aids help keep small matters small should something unfortunate happen on the trip.
Staying hydrated during a long day out of the RV is easier with a refillable water container. Include sunscreen on your packing list at any time of the year. A flask of coffee, soup, or tea can be very welcome to stay warm prior to November games in Minnesota.
If you aren't cooking at a Minnesota tailgate, then you might be bringing something to someone else's tailgate. Break up the duties and plan to enjoy the day together. Make snacks and sides before you travel, then get your selections out on the grill early on a Saturday morning. One dish that will certainly get other fans flocking to your rig is a beer cheese deep or a hearty soup or stew.
Make sure your grill is gas at the official campus tailgate locations as charcoal grills are prohibited. Be aware that cooking and campfire rules vary by campground, especially if you are further out from the city where aggressive wildlife is more common.
Being smack in the middle of a major metropolitan area, there is no shortage of restaurants around UMN that cater to all tastes. Sticking to familiar restaurants is easily an option, but you may also want to be a little more adventuresome and try out some of the unique cuisines available in Minnesota. These include fish such as walleye and Scandinavian foods such as Lefse and Swedish meatballs.
The tenth anniversary of TCF Bank Stadium saw an upgrade to the food offerings from the vendors in the facility. These are perfect for fans who didn't eat quite enough at the tailgate to tide them over until the game has finished. The stadium at the concourse level is ringed with food options ranging from national chains to local burger bars and grills. Beer and wine can be purchased up until the end of the third quarter.
Planning at least an hour to get through the ticket line and security will ensure you don't miss the first snap of a UMN game. Expect security for a large scale sporting event, with bag searches and wand checks if deemed necessary. The university operates a clear bag policy for its games, with no other bags other than a small clutch allowed. This bag size has been 12"x6"x12" over the past few seasons.
The weather in Minnesota is usually mild at the start of the season in August and fairly brutal by the end of it in November. Much depends on the time of day the game is played combined with the season, but always prepare to layer up, and check the forecast in the days leading up to the game. The atmosphere around a snow game in the winter is fantastic, but if that is the goal, then take every step needed to ensure frostbite doesn't occur from exposure.
There are four first-aid booths in the stadium at Gate A, Gate C, Gate E, and the DQ Club room. These are outfitted with AEDs, with four further AEDs located around the facility. The University of Minnesota also has roaming security and medical teams around their facilities on game days just in case help is needed. Additional medical care and pharmacy services are situated within five miles of the UMN sporting arenas and stadium.