Eagles and Patriots fans, plus a smattering of Vikings fans, have settled into U.S. Bank Stadium to watch Philadelphia take on New England in the Super Bowl.
The mood in the stadium was enthusiastic at kickoff, and the crowd continued to roar as the game got underway. Eagles fans seemed to outnumber Patriots fans — or at least bring a more louder fan base, chanting in the concourses, waving handkerchiefs and offering hugs and high-fives to surrounding fans. Patriots fans, meanwhile, where hoping for yet another Super Bowl victory.
Eagles fan Brian Kripke and Patriots fan Jake Dennis were both confident shortly before the game started. The two childhood friends, who had not seen each other in years, ran into one another on the concourse and immediately started trash talking.
“Do you know about Foles?” Kripke asked, launching into a list of Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles’ skills.
When his friend went to grab a beer, Dennis said he felt relaxed.
“We’ve been here before,” the Patriots fan said.
The stadium doors opened at 1 p.m., well before the scheduled 5:30 p.m. kickoff.
Among the Eagles and Patriots fans, however, there were plenty of fans wearing Vikings purple. Vikings fan Kim Hoeft bought her Super Bowl tickets in October, hoping to see the home team in the big game. On Sunday, she wore gold leggings and a Stefon Diggs jersey, and said she was looking for “support while we cry in our beer.”
As she posed for a photo, a passing Eagles fan stopped to congratulate them and said, “You guys had a hell of a season.”
Fans were stopping for beer and a bite to eat, snapping selfies all over before the game began. While there was heavy foot traffic in the skyways as fans made their way to the stadium, the concourses seemed to be moving well.
There some bottlenecks, though — at the men’s restroom. Lines to use the restrooms snaked out into the concourse and blocked foot traffic before the game.
“This is a major issue ... They are probably going to lose a lot of beer sales,” Charlie Wayton, of Honolulu, said.
Kim Keller, of Damariscotta, Maine, got her ticket to the Super Bowl as a gift after the Eagles won the NFC Championship. The only other stadium she has been to is Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. As a “die-hard” Eagles fan, she loves the home field, “but this is beautiful,” she said as she looked around U.S. Bank Stadium.
“It is just striking, especially with the bright blue sky,” she said. “It’s nice to have it covered because it’s so cold.”
Along the stadium’s eastern concourse, a pro-Eagles chant rose up every few minutes, followed by a pause, as if to give Patriots supporters a chance to respond. They never did.
At souvenir stands, the most basic Super Bowl T-shirt cost $35, hats sold for $34 to $45 range, and an “official” Wilson football costs $215.
But Bo McHale of Levittown, Pa., brought is own headwear: a baseball cap with a mechanized eagle on the brim that flapped its wings. He led a rendition of “Fly, Eagles Fly” as Patriots fans walked by.
Fan began to move toward their seats as the teams took the field for warmups.
Members of the Neto family from Dartmouth, Mass., were eager for a Patriots victory. The brought a banner that said “Blitz for Six” beside the Patriot’s logo and the Super Bowl trophy, painted by art teacher mom Beth Neto.
She said they’ve had a wonderful time in Minneapolis: “Everyone is so kind.” And she thinks Vikings fans have adopted the Patriots as the team to cheer for.
Boston resident Rick Carlson spent the last two nights making custom Patriots poncho.
“I know the Patriots will pull this off,” he said, agreeing that Minnesota fans have embraced Patriots after Eagles fan “antics” after the NFC Championship Game.
Outside the stadium, people continued to arrive. Corporate sponsors were ushering their guests off buses and into the stadium.
“We’ve had a great time,” said a Gatorade representative, who declined to give a name. “It’s been cold, but fun. There’s a great energy.”
While many Eagles and Patriots fans walking into the stadium commented on the cold — it felt like 14 below zero outside despite the bright sunny skies — brothers Paul and Scott Helmuth from Cape Cod, Mass., wore just their Patriots jerseys without coats and were all smiles after driving from the East Coast to arrive in Minnesota just in time for kickoff. It was their first time in Minnesota and their first time attending a Super Bowl out of the eight their team hasmade it to, forking over $2,900 for tickets.
“It’s a beautiful city,” Paul Helmuth said. “It’s a little cold but I can get over it. It’s winter; it’s supposed to be cold.”
Star Tribune staff writer Libor Jany contributed to this story.