The NFL regular-season schedule was released last week and perhaps no team was more excited to see it than the Minnesota Vikings. They get to move into the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium this season after spending two years playing outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
A lot of the players on the Vikings roster are from the south, so they are not necessarily the biggest fans of playing in the cold weather that an outdoor stadium in Minnesota faces late in the season. It’s not just the players who have to endure the cold, though, but the fans as well and the players are thankful that they continued to show up and support them, despite the frigid temperatures.
Vikings players are now looking forward to opening up their new stadium with the fans on Aug. 28 for the preseason home opener and Sept. 18 for the regular-season home opener.
“I’m very excited. ... We are all excited,” said defensive tackle Linval Joseph. “And I thank all the fans for the last two years supporting us, our true die-hard fans in the cold weather, but now we have a new stadium, so let’s go.”
Joseph knows what a new stadium can do for a team and their fans because he was a part of the New York Giants organization when they moved into MetLife Stadium in 2010. He said that the players can feel an energy when playing in a new stadium. They know that all the fans are excited and they feed off that when down on the field.
“When you’re traveling to a new stadium it’s just something new. But when it’s your stadium, the newest, the best lights, everything, it just gives you another sort of energy to win to keep this the winning stadium,” he explained.
The one person who may not be as excited about the season quickly approaching is the team’s head coach Mike Zimmer. Instead, he said that he was more “nervous”. There is always a lot of pressure to continue to improve in the NFL and after finishing last year’s season with an 11-5 record and an NFC North division title there is not a lot of room for drastic improvement, at least af far as the regular-season record is concerned.
But even the coach knows that the regular-season home opener against their division rival Green Bay Packers is going to be something special, especially since it is going to be a prime-time television event.
“That will be exciting,” Zimmer said. “It’s Sunday Night Football, breaking in the new stadium against a big rival. I think our team’s getting used to playing in prime time.”
There are a lot of high expectations surrounding the Vikings this season, and it all starts with everyone wanting to see U.S. Bank Stadium when it finally opens.