A snowy setting for a sport-crazed city – Kevin Mulligan visits Minneapolis.
MINNEAPOLIS, JEWEL of the American upper Midwest and one half of the famous twin cities (the other being St Paul) isn’t quite all it’s made out to be. The city has a definite throbbing heart in its downtown area, but outside of that doesn’t really leave a mark on the visitor. However, it has some truly American characteristics which make Minneapolis of notable interest.
The city’s residents are sports crazy, and with a major league team in American football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey and even soccer there’s no shortage in sporting entertainment. To find the city’s passion and pride, look no further than the college and university sports.
College sport is an American fixation, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in Minneapolis. Ticket prices are comparatively low to that of their professional equivalents, and with full and cheering stadiums for more or less every home game, for the sporting among us, college games are an experience not to be missed.
The old saying that ‘they do things bigger in America’ certainly does apply to Minneapolis, and the University of Minnesota doesn’t break with this. Home to over 50,000 students and roughly ten times the size of UCD’s campus it is staggering to consider. Much like a city located within a city, a simple walk around the university’s campus delivers a distinctive flavour of youth culture in Minneapolis.
There are two faces to the nightlife in Minneapolis; the so-called downtown area is a thriving den of fun and excitement any night of the week. There are clubs and bars too numerous to mention, and with such a large student population it’s not hard to see why these are usually full. However, venture outside of this part of town and something very different lies in store – here, for example, it is not uncommon to see rabbits scurrying around at night. In short, 90 per cent of the city dies after ten pm.
Minneapolis’ weather is usually freezing and it’s not uncommon for ten or twelve inches of snow to fall in a couple of hours. However, snow is to Minnesota what rain is to Ireland, so a good hearty snow fight will only serve to draw strange gazes from the locals. Due to the cold conditions walking outside is really not an option, at least for any meaningful period of time. To combat this, the city has an excellent light rail system which links every major part of the city.
Those with shopping on their mind will be interested to discover that Minneapolis is home to the enormous Mall of America, the largest mall in the states. Dwarfing Dundrum, it has hundreds of shops, an impressive aquarium and even its own theme park complete with roller-coasters and a ferris wheel. Go to the mall with no illusions of finding anything but a shopping installation, but be sure to go to it. It’s a sight to behold.