Sunday’s Vikings Home Game Could Be One of the NFL’s Coldest Ever

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New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings
Photo: Adam Bettcher/2015 Getty Images

For decades, the Minnesota Vikings played their home games indoors at the climate-controlled Metrodome, meaning players wouldn’t be affected by the often-frigid Minneapolis winters. And next season, the franchise plans to move into the new U.S. Bank Stadium, which is being built where the Metrodome once stood and will also feature a roof. In between, though, the Vikings are playing two seasons at the outdoor TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, meaning that, especially late in the season, all in attendance could be exposed to some brutal temperatures. And as the Vikings prepare to play Seattle in their first and likely only playoff game at TCF, forecasts are calling for what could be one of the coldest games in NFL history, with AccuWeather predicting a game-time temperature of -1 degree, with a windchill that will make it feel like 20 below.

In preparation for the game, the Vikings will distribute hand-warmers to fans and will allow non-battery-operated blankets. They’re also encouraging fans to bring Styrofoam, cardboard, or newspapers to place under their feet — “a popular and effective tactic that has worked in other outdoor markets,” according to a team statement. The University of Minnesota will also open its nearby basketball arena before the game as a “warming house” that fans can use before entering the stadium.

The players, meanwhile, will have access to specially designed cold-weather gear that was first used during a playoff game at Lambeau Field in 2014 and later used by the Seahawks during the Super Bowl at the Meadowlands. Special equipment that blows hot air under tarps is also being used to keep the field thawed until Sunday.

A temperature of -1 would make it the seventh-coldest game in NFL history and the chilliest since the NFC title game at Lambeau Field in 2008, when -4 temperatures turned Tom Coughlin’s cheeks a scary shade of red. It would be the coldest game in Minnesota since 1972, when the Vikings still played outdoors before moving into the Metrodome. (If you’re wondering, the coldest game in league history was the famous 13-below “Ice Bowl” between the Cowboys and Packers at Lambeau Field on December 31, 1967, when windchills hit -48 degrees.)