WORTHINGTON -- This fall when the Vikings open their season in the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium, the voice of a southwest Minnesota man will welcome the thousands of purple and gold faithful to a new season and a new stadium.
Slayton native Kelly Burnham, known professionally as Alan Roach, will be the new public address announcer at the new home of the Vikings. It is a homecoming for Roach, who has spent the last 25 years working in Denver as a radio host and PA announcer for the Broncos, Avalanche, Rockies and Rapids.
“It’s incredible,” Roach said. “It’s like a dream come true. A dream I didn’t even really know I had. Growing up as a kid, I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a PA announcer. But to be a PA announcer for the Vikings is a dream come true.”
Roach’s career has taken him all over the globe. He has announced at eight Super Bowls, four Winter Olympic Games and will work his first Summer Olympics this August in Rio. And a trip to Wembley Stadium in London in 2013 may have set the groundwork for Roach being offered the Vikings job.
He announces all of the NFL’s games in London, and on September 29, 2013 that meant he was the Vikings announcer as they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Vikings must have liked what they heard.
“It’s been a case of mutual admiration over the last few years,” Roach said. “They heard me at that game and were impressed with what I did. So they asked if I had any interest in working with the Vikings and I said ‘yeah.’ Eventually it turned into this.”
Roach says he is still the biggest Vikings fan he knows and can’t wait to be in U.S. Bank Stadium with thousands of other fans.
“Working with the Broncos, I haven’t been able to yell Skol Vikings every day when I walk down the street,” he said. “It’s been inside of me and now I get to let it out.”
He said his best memories as a Vikings fan are the Super Bowl losses -- the last three (he was too young to remember the first one) -- despite the heartache that came along with them. His family threw big parties with tons of food, even before Super Bowl parties were the extravaganzas they are today.
“When they played the Dolphins and Steelers and Raiders, I remember everybody coming over to the house -- the beginnings of what Super Bowl parties were,” Roach said. “My mom put out meat and crackers and dip.”
Roach also says he used to love to go on group trips from his home in Slayton to Vikings training camp. He remembers watching the practices and then waiting around afterward to get autographs from all of the players.
His family moved from Slayton to Brainerd in 1984 when he was in the ninth grade. All of his family still lives in Minnesota -- he is the only one that left the state permanently. He has four siblings still living here, including a sister in Slayton. His mother, who lived in the Twin Cities area, died last year.
Roach will not be moving to Minnesota full-time as he will still be announcing games for the Avalanche and Rapids.
A large portion of the family plans to attend his first preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Chargers on Sunday, Aug. 28, as they will already be in town for his niece’s wedding that Saturday.
“The entire Burnham clan will be in town that weekend and I know a lot of them have bought tickets,” Roach said. “The saddest thing is that my biggest fan, my mom, missed it by one year.”
In his 25 years in Colorado, Roach attended a number of stadium openings, including the Rockies’ ballpark Coors Field in 1995 and the Broncos’ stadium, now known as Sports Authority Field, in 2001. He is looking forward to adding U.S. Bank Stadium to the list of new stadiums to which he has welcomed fans.
“People are coming to an incredible building for the first time ever,” he said. “They have expectations of what the building is going to be like. They have an understanding of how it was at the old place and what will be better here. This is going to be the home for the Vikings for the next few decades. You get there the first day and you get to see the signs and hear the new announcer. It will be thrilling for the fans and obviously thrilling for me.”