The University of St. Thomas men’s basketball team will be one of eight college teams to make history this week as they play the first-ever basketball games at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings.
“I think it’s an historic event,” coach John Tauer said. “We are certainly honored to be a part of it. It speaks volumes about how St. Thomas and how the university is viewed in the community.”
The U.S. Bank Stadium Basketball Classic features teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Oklahoma, playing Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday Dec. 1. But even more special, the Tommies and their opponent, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, will play at 6 p.m. Friday in the first game ever to be played in the stadium.
“It’s awesome,” said fifth-year senior Michael Hannon. “It’s such an iconic building that’s been built, to host things like the Super Bowl and the Final Four, so to be able to kind of etch St. Thomas in the history books of the stadium, it’ll be a really good experience.”
Hannon and some his teammates have played in big arenas, most recently in Salem, Virginia in the 2016 Division III men’s basketball Final Four. That team went on to win the championship, but as nice of a venue as it was, Hannon thinks playing on this court, in front of this crowd, will stand out.
“Honestly, as far as stadiums go, this has to rank No. 1 for me, just because it’s so awesome. I just happen to be a die-hard Vikings fan so that helps,” Hannon said with a smile.
Tauer knows his players have and will play in big games in their career, but he fully understands memories of a game in this setting will be special.
“With our players, we always talk about trying to create experiences that try to teach them about life, and this will be one of those memorable ones,” Tauer said. “It’s exciting for them.”
“We have a lot of respect for River Falls and I think it’s going to be a great night for our university,” Tauer added.
Tommie alumni can purchase discounted lower-level tickets here using the promo code VIKES18. Fans can find the Tommie selfie station on the concourse, and look for the Tommie filter on Snapchat, #USBSClassic
The games are part of a general run-through weekend at the facility as U.S. Bank Stadium prepares to host the 2019 Division I Men’s Final Four, April 6-8.
U.S. Bank Stadium has also played host to Minnesota Gophers and other college baseball games the last two years. It was the site of Super Bowl LII last February, the ESPN X Games, and will play host to the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.