Minnesota Vikings home fans and others who attend games at The People’s Stadium (TPS) probably don’t notice the stadium workers, many of whom are Black. These folk run the concessions, sweep the concourse, wipe the seats, and perform other tasks before, during and after games in an unobtrusive fashion unless otherwise needed, trying to provide that good fan experience the club often brags about.
Dominic Walker, an eight-year TPS worker, is usually stationed at the gigantic Legacy Gates, and is always helpful with ticketing issues. He was recently featured in the game-day program.
Walker helped me earlier this season when asked for a best-guess estimate of Black fans he typically sees come through his station. He estimated that around 5-10% of the total attending fans are Black.
Walter Vanes makes a mean omelet to order as one of the press box cooks. “This is my first year actually cooking [at the stadium],” he told us. “I like cooking.”
The elder continued, “I was cooking at the airport, but then with the pandemic, I was laid off.” His culinary skills were cultivated as a morning cook at a St. Paul café for 13 years “doing omelets and all kinds of stuff. I love to talk to the people,” said Vanes, adding that since being at TPS “I learned a little bit about the catering.”
Robert Grace makes salads and sandwiches at his two Be Graceful stands, named for his local catering business. He also has locations at the Gopher football stadium and Williams Arena among other sporting venues.
“I’ve been here since the building opened in 2016,” Grace told the MSR, adding that his game-day business has grown every year. “We went from 10 employees to 20,” he said proudly. “I try to bring my high school and college kids, and they stay with me.”
Tre Holloman, a Cretin-Durham Hall senior, has been working with Grace for four years. “My primary duty is on the cash register,” he said. “This is a really good job working with people.”
Now with fans back at full capacity at TPS, and with health protocols now in place, all food purchases are done by credit card or cash cards. “We’ve staffed more so people don’t have to wait,” said Grace. “It’s been kind of smooth at our station.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.