Megabus loaded and unloaded passengers on the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Third Street for a stretch of time. Eventually, the company was told to take it off the street. Space was rented in a parking lot around the corner.
The customers stand in the open, near some cones that indicate where the Megabus will park. There are two porta-potties to serve the needs of passengers.
On Friday, there was porta-potty competition, as this parking lot also was a preferred location for dedicated tailgaters congregating early for the Vikings exhibition opener.
“The knighting ceremonies take place right over there in the corner,” said Bill Keech, pointing to his left.
Bill lives in Le Center. He works as a welder for Waste Management in Mankato. He had arrived with his wife, Kathy, and son, Richard, more than seven hours before kickoff.
There was a grill in the trunk and a couple of coolers. Before tailgate preparations, Bill reached for his hat with horns and made sure it sat on his head properly. This wasn’t a cheap, purple-plastic model, but a sturdy hat with horns that could gore a crowd of Cheeseheads, if necessary.
Bill wore a jersey with letters reading “VWO,” plus patches identifying Bill as Sir Keech and in honor of the USMC.
A reporter took this in and asked: “Were you in the Marines?”
Keech shook his horns and said: “I’m a knight in the Marine Division in the VWO.”
And what might that be? “The Viking World Order,” Keech said. “Syd Davy started it. You know Syd, don’t you?
Yes, I know Syd … the guy from Winnipeg who used to catch Randy Moss in the end zone after Moss’ Metrodome ripoffs of the “Lambeau Leap.”
“Is Syd going to be here today?” I asked.
The answer from Keech and a couple of other nearby knights of the VWO was that they weren’t expecting Syd for this game. In other words, the superfan from Winnipeg had an attitude similar to the average season-ticket holder from Eden Prairie: He doesn’t do exhibitions.
This is how the group started, according to the “THEE Viking World Order” account on Facebook:
“The Viking World Order (VWO) was founded in 1997 by the Legendary Syd Davy. He began ‘knighting’ other members into the Viking World Order in 2007, in order to assemble an army to lead the fight against the Minnesota Legislature to help the Vikings build support for a new stadium.”
There are six divisions to Davy’s army of pro-stadium zealots: Special Ops, Homeland Security, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine. There’s also a Valkyrie Division, which we would’ve called the ladies auxiliary before Bella Abzug raised a ruckus about such things four decades ago.
Kathy Keech is listed in the Valkyrie Division. Big Vikes fan, Kathy?
“Sort-a, kind-a,” she said.
Bill Keech said work obligations prevented him from joining other Purple zealots at the State Capitol. His knighthood was earned, Bill said, by sending “thousands of e-mails” through Minnesota Momentum, the “grass roots” pro-stadium organization created and backed by the Vikings.
“The Vikings recognized me after the stadium was voted in,” Keech said. “They invited some of us to Winter Park. We watched practice.”
Working on behalf of a new Vikings stadium was a requirement for VWO knighthood, before passage of the bill in the Legislature on May 10, 2012.
On Friday, only a hint of the Metrodome’s roof was visible from the parking lot, since there’s an apartment building in the way. When the new dome, the Taj Ma Zygi, opens in 2016, it will rise 100 feet higher in the sky and overwhelm its surroundings.
Keech was asked if he had any second thoughts over his ardent work in behalf of a stadium for Zygi Wilf, what with last week’s decision against the Wilfs in a long-running lawsuit in New Jersey.
The judge in her ruling said Zygi operated with “bad faith and evil motive” — and those were only a couple of the shortcomings Her Honor found in the Wilfs’ treatment of partners in Rachel Gardens, a 764-unit apartment complex in Montville, N.J.
“I read about it,” Keech said. “I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me so much.”
Good answer, Sir Keech.
Anything else, Syd Davy, the VWO’s self-appointed five-star general, might order a court martial.