Vikings fans turn off a visitor from New Orleans

The other day I attended my “interview” with the committee organizing volunteers to put a nice face on Minnesota when the Super Bowl is held in Minneapolis at the end of the NFL season, which started here Monday night when the Vikings played the New Orleans Saints.

The goal is to send people away thinking that Minnesota and, in particular, the Twin Cities is a pretty great place and if one of the attendees happens to own a company looking for a home, so much the better.

It’s simple, really: First impressions matter.

It’s a massive marketing undertaking, momentarily undone by the louts who sat near a woman from New Orleans at the Vikings’ stadium on Monday night.

Her letter appears today in the Star Tribune:

At no small expense, we came from New Orleans to watch the season opener against the Vikings. As a fan, I enjoy rooting for my team. Before the start of the game, my husband and I explained to our neighbors on either side that I would be enthusiastically cheering for the Saints.

My cheers were met with taunts and jeers from several of our neighbors. A “lady” who sat one row behind my husband was particularly nasty and heckled me for cheering. Her behavior was so poor that the man sitting next to my husband explained that she’s horrific throughout the season.

Vikings fans, you do realize that I was unbelievably outnumbered? You are free to cheer for your team. Because mine was the only voice screaming for the Saints, one, then several, of our neighbors harassed my husband and me for cheering. Yet when I vociferously joined in Vikings’ fans cheers for our U.S. military, no one objected.

If you came to New Orleans, which I hope you do one day, I’m confident that our city and our fans would treat you much better. Please try to get your act together before you host the Super Bowl next year.

To our other neighbors at the game, we truly appreciated your good-natured banter.

Alice Cibilich, New Orleans

Nice, Minnesota.

Here’s the thing about Alice’s takeaway: It’s completely opposite the experience of Vikings fans who traveled to New Orleans a few years ago for the NFC Championship game.

It is not possible for fans of any team to be more gracious and welcoming than New Orleans fans were to their Minnesota counterparts.

Perhaps it takes almost being washed away by a hurricane for football fans to realize it’s only a football game.

So, swell job, Vikings fans. Now we’ll have to spend tax dollars to get any company to move here.