Summer Starts Here


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By Mark Halsall for the Free Press THESE DAYS, WHEN PEOPLE THINK OF MINNEAPOLIS, PRINCE IS TYPICALLY TOP OF MIND. Since Prince's untimely death at his Minneapolis area home on April 21, thousands of fans from all over the world have traveled to the city to remember the music legend and catch a glimpse of the important places in his life. Winnipeggers will be interested to know there are a number of new tours that offer visitors an easy way to do just that. They include an online guide to Prince's former homes and schools and the venues where the burgeoning star first electrified audiences, that's been published by the tourism organization Meet Minneapolis. The itinerary for the self-guided tour includes Paisley Park, Prince's home and recording studio, and the famous First Avenue music club, along with some locations where part of Prince's 1984 film Purple Rain was shot. Over the years, Prince's hometown has always been a magnet for his legions of followers but "now they're obviously coming for sadder reasons to pay their respects and to see the places where he was living and working," says Kristen Montag, communications manager for Meet Minneapolis. According to Montag, Prince was like those Winnipeggers who move away but stay loyal to their prairie roots. Prince worked and lived in other places during his lifetime, but he always came home to Minneapolis, she says. "Prince was always very proud of being from here and he was very vocal about it, which we appreciated a great deal for many reasons, you know, just as neighbours and fellow residents. I think that's partially what endeared him so much to so many people here." The initial news of Prince's death brought throngs of Minnesotans together in the heart of the city, not just to mourn but to celebrate his life and music. "The night that he passed and the following couple of evenings, there were thousands of people from Minnesota who had just showed up and stood out on the streets in downtown Minneapolis and danced on First Avenue and remembered him, because everybody felt a little connection to him," Montag says. Visitors can also take advantage of a couple of new bus tours that follow the trail of Prince's life in Minneapolis. Minnesota's WaconiaVille Tours has expanded its lineup to include a three-hour trip that costs US$69 and a seven-hour tour that covers more spots and costs US$99. Minneapolis will have another new attraction for visitors a little later this summer with the unveiling of the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, the US$1.1-billion U.S. Bank Stadium. Always a popular draw for major league sports enthusiasts from Manitoba as well as surrounding states, the city is counting on its brand-new covered stadium to generate even more interest. Built on the site of the demolished Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis and set to open in late July, the 72,000-seat facility features an innovative design and numerous distinctive features, including a translucent roof made of a new type of material called ETFE that lets in light the same way glass does. "People who are interested in sports first and foremost will find it intriguing to see this new stadium," Montag says. "The term state- of-the-art gets used a lot, but it will literally have every brand new bell and whistle that you can imagine. Even just going on a public tour of a building like that is often a draw for people." ✹ Since his death fans of Prince have been flocking to Minneapolis to discover more about the music legend's early upbringing including the home featured in Purple Rain (bottom right) and the First Avenue music club (above) where he got his start. SUPPLIED PHOTO SUPPLIED PHOTO PHOTO BY KRISTEN MONTAG PHOTO BY KRISTEN MONTAG

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