Sunday’s game between the Vikings and the Packers may have the rare road-field advantage, where the conditions will be more conducive to what Green Bay is used to play in than the Vikings.
It was a house of horrors for a lot of teams, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy put up a 5-3 record at the Metrodome. Asked about his thoughts on not playing at the Metrodome anymore, McCarthy showed his due respect for the building, but couldn’t help but take a jab at the long-held belief from road teams that the Vikings increased the volume by pumping in artificial noise to make it louder in the Dome.
“I liked the Metrodome,” McCarthy said. “I thought it was a great environment. It definitely leads the away games for taking Advil after it. The crowd noise, real and not so real, I thought really beats you up by the end of the day. But the environment in there was incredible. I mean, you think about all the Packer fans that are at the game, it was always exciting to play in the Metrodome. I definitely enjoyed it. I thought it was unique. It was a unique home-field advantage for the Vikings. I’m not going to say I’ve missed it, but I enjoyed playing there.”
Without a roof to trap the sound, the crowd noise at TCF Bank Stadium won’t be as ear-splitting as the Metrodome, but McCarthy is convinced it will still be plenty loud because whenever you have a border battle between Minnesota and Wisconsin, the stakes are raised a little higher – both for the teams and the fans.
“It’s an outdoor game,” McCarthy said. “I think anytime the Vikings and Packers get together it’s definitely going to be a spirited game and the fan interaction is going to be high. We’re practicing with crowd noise just as we would anytime we go into an opponent’s stadium.”
For quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it will be a new experience playing at The Bank. It’s a venue he’s never played in, so his pre-game warmup on the field will entail a little more than the typical loosening up before game time. He will have to do his own inspection of the field and the surroundings to get acclimated to it, much in the same way he did when he played in unfamiliar territory while playing at Cal.
“We used to walk through, in college, we’d get to the place we’re playing, go over to the field and just kind of walk the field, look at the scoreboard for the play clock,” Rodgers said. “It’s kind of the same kind of deal. You want to find out where the play clock is at, get used to the surface a little bit. Not going to be too big of an issue. It’s a nice stadium, college atmosphere. Just find the play clock and we’ll be alright.”
One of the aspects that has changed without a roof is that the blaring of the Gjallarhorn when the Vikings do something positive won’t be as noisy as it was in the Metrodome, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be bothersome for the opposing players who are forced to endure it.
“It’ll still be annoying, I’m sure,” Rodgers said. “I’m just wondering how they’re going to do it with the motorcycle Viking (Ragnar), if he’s still going to be in full effect. Maybe they’ll get a parade cart for him to come out on. I don’t know if that’s safer or not. If the field is pretty icy, he’s just going to have to be careful revving that thing up too much.”
The Packers know that they’re only going to play two games at The Bank before the new Vikings stadium is ready to roll for the border battles between the Vikings and Packers will return indoors. Most people don’t miss the Metrodome, but Rodgers is actually looking forward to returning inside to play the Vikings – spoken like a true Wisconsinite who is used to playing in bone-numbing outdoor temperatures.
“We had a lot of great battles there, a lot of good memories,” Rodgers said of the Metrodome. “I look forward to that being a road dome game at some point again.”
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