Vikings Players Worried About Safety of TCF Bank Stadium
The Vikings-Bears game this Monday night will be played at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of University of Minnesota football, assuming they can get the stadium shoveled and prepped in time. The determination will be made with a heavy emphasis on whether the conditions are safe enough for players and fans.
Some Vikings players themselves expressed concern about the safety of the outdoor stadium.
"I just hope it's a safe environment to play in," said Visanthe Shiancoe. "That it's not going to be hazardous to the players when it comes to field conditions.
"Is that really a home advantage for us? That's the question. But at the same time, we have to go out there and play, and we'll play hard."
Ben Leber, one of the team's assistant player representatives, echoed those concerns.
"It can be a potentially dangerous situation, but because historically in the past games have been played on frozen fields ... and there is probably not enough evidence to say, 'There's a 60 percent chance of a player getting hurt' or whatever. This machine has been going too long and too hard for anything to throw a wrench in it during the week of the game. It's a valid question, but I don't think anything could be done."
Although it's possible to remove all the snow and ice from the field in advance of the game, the stadium is not equipped with heating coils under the field like some cold-weather NFL stadiums. With temperatures expected to be 5 degrees at night, the field will still be frozen. Players are concerned about the impact of hitting a field that has no give. Gaining traction is another concern.
Hundreds of volunteers showed up to help shovel the stadium, and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said everyone's working hard to get the stadium game-ready.
"A lot of people are working very hard to get it done, but we want to assure hte fans in the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota that we're going to have a game in Minnesota. I look forward to being back outdoors the way I was always used to watching games and enjoying games."
Despite the players' possible objections, if the stadium is deemed safe by the league, the players are bound to play there.
"I think this is too big of a situation when it comes down to money and ticket sales for us to have a big enough voice to say, 'You have to move the game of we're not going to play,'" Leber said. "I think we're pretty much bound to our contract that we have, and there's not much else we can do about it."