Tomorrow will be the first test of the new-look, short-term Vikings. Until Sunday, the weather issues at TCF Bank Stadium were more theoretical than realistic. Sure, it was nippy when the Vikings played the Redskins, but it was a sunny day, albeit a little windy.
The final four homes games are likely going to be a different story.
The Vikings will play their next three games at home – the Packers this week followed by Carolina and the New York Jets – and will close out the regular season at home against Chicago on Dec. 28. The potential is perfect for cold weather, snow, wind and everything bad that weather in November and December can produce.
The issue the Vikings will be facing in these final four home games as well as next season will be that, if the Vikings were permanently playing outdoors, it would be a different story. Free agents and even draft picks could be influenced by the fact that those players will have to get used to playing often outside in the elements late in the season. The Packers, Bears and other teams from the deep north tailor their roster with players who can handle the elements.
But the Vikings don’t have that luxury. In less than two years, the Vikings will be back in the climate controlled comfort of their new stadium and the cold-weather memories of The Bank will dim quickly as the transformation of the team moves back to that of an indoor team playing on a dry track, where rain, wind, snow and ice won’t be a factor.
Until then, the Vikings are essentially going to be playing road games at home. Their fans will be present to give them support from the stands, but when they play teams likes Packers, Jets and Bears between now and the end of the year, it will be the road team that has the advantage in many respects since they’re used to playing cold-weather games every year at least a few times.
This is a new experience for the Vikings and their fans. Most Vikings fans who attend games haven’t dealt with the harsh elements that are inevitable since the last dying dog days of Met Stadium. In many ways, they have been spoiled by the knowledge that, regardless of how brutal the Minnesota weather can be in November and December, once they arrived at the Metrodome, it was 68 degrees with no chance of precipitation (unless the roof collapsed).
Now, it’s going to be a semi-regular thing the next year-plus. Given the Vikings contract that was signed with the University of Minnesota, there is likely going to be a similar scenario that plays out next year. Since they can’t compete on the same weekend as the Golden Gophers, they may once again end up with a three-game homestand late in the season like they’re going to face this week.
Most Vikings fans are aware of the struggles teams of seasons past have endured when playing outdoors in the cold, snow and wind. It isn’t very good. The only difference is that they’ve always been hostile road environments. The conditions may remain hostile, but they will be home games for the next 13 months.
Fans who will be attending the final four games may want to get layered clothing together because it isn’t going to be pretty. Sunday is supposed be around 40 and drizzling. For the following three home games, expect the freezing temperatures. The best news for jaded Vikings fans who have become so accustomed to indoor playing conditions is that it will only be temporary.
Don’t get your popcorn ready. Get your snowballs ready.
Vikings get a taste of the hometown weather
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