Cottrell Offers Open-Air Stadium Experiences

Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell responded Thursday to the possibility the Vikings' new ownership may pursue an open-air stadium. Cottrell coached in the elements of Buffalo, N.Y., and talked about the advantages and disadvantages the stadium held for the home team.

New Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is standing by his desire for an open-air stadium. But Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell might be in favor of a dome or retractable roof stadium.

"I was in Buffalo for 10 years, and I tell you what – it's tough to play under those conditions," Cottrell said. "As a matter of fact, I was coaching in the last game at (Metropolitan Stadium) with the Kansas City Chiefs. That day with the wind chill was like 5 below (zero), clothes were frozen and the field was frozen. Those conditions are tough to play in. I tell you what, I wouldn't mind a stadium like that with a retractable roof, from being in Buffalo."

Cottrell spend 1995-97 as the Bills' linebackers coach, then the next three years as their defensive coordinator. He also coached three years with the New York Jets before coming to Minnesota last year.

Snow is a bigger issue than the cold, Cottrell said, as teams try to get secure footing.

"When it's cold, it's no problem – it's like playing in Green Bay," said Cottrell, whose Vikings defense held Green Bay to 17 points during their Jan. 9 playoff win. "It's the snow conditions that you worry about. The other thing in Buffalo, they have to spend a quite a bit of money on removing that snow out of the stadium. When people try to compare costs, they have to factor that in and keep that in mind. Then they have to develop a shoot system and then hire some people to move the snow, push the snow into a center isle and then push the snow into a shoot. And then they have to truck it away. It's quite an operation. I think if they had their preference they would have a retractable roof. They were supposed to have a dome there originally."

While fans like to think that having their home team used to the cold conditions is a big advantage, that might not be the case. Vikings players from the 1960s and 1970s felt that advantage, but in today's NFL the advantage might only lie in the psychological realm.

"There was a funny thing about playing in Buffalo – it was a psychological thing. Teams would come up there and think we're used to it, but we practiced inside more when it came to like October. Everyday we had to practice indoors because it was either windy, or the field was frozen and it was thawing out and it was too slippery to practice on the grass," Cottrell said. "So basically in Buffalo we were more of an indoor team than an outdoor team, but people always said, ‘Those guys are used to it and they know how to deal with it.' Wrong. We were indoors more so than we were outdoors because you had to, to get some work done."

That was also the case with the Vikings last year, even if they wanted to occasionally practice outside in the elements to prepare for an upcoming game in the cold outdoors. The practice fields were often covered in snow come playoff time, but the Vikings still beat the Packers at Lambeau, 31-17, after a week of practicing indoors at Winter Park.

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