The Vikings will play their 2014 home opener at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 14, but the five open-air games they are scheduled to play at their temporary home in November and December might be met with a different kind of goose bumps if the weather is anything like this past winter.
With the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome reduced to rubble and hauled away, the Vikings will play their entire home season outdoors for the first time in 32 years. Teams likely will need to bust out the hand-warmers and long sleeves for those late-season home games at TCF, including the finale against the Bears on Dec. 28.
The NFL unveiled its regular-season schedule Wednesday night. The Vikings open on the road on Sept. 7 against the Rams, the first game of the Mike Zimmer era. They play their lone prime-time game against Green Bay at Lambeau Field in Week 5. And four of their final five games will be played at TCF.
It will be the first of their two seasons at the University of Minnesota’s football stadium as they wait for their new stadium to be constructed.
The only weekend when the Gophers and Vikings both play at TCF Bank Stadium is Oct. 11 and 12.
TCF Bank Stadium will have a capacity of 54,000 after upgrades. Those upgrades will include a “hydronic heated field” that is being installed, which should prevent the playing surface from freezing.
When the Metrodome roof collapsed in December 2010, the Vikings were forced to play one game at TCF. Quarterback Brett Favre suffered a concussion when Bears defensive end Corey Wooten, now with the Vikings, slammed him onto the cold turf.
The last time the Vikings played their full home schedule outdoors was in 1981, when they played their final season at Metropolitan Stadium before it closed.
Four of the Vikings’ opponents are 2013 playoff teams: the Packers, Panthers, Saints and Patriots. They play three of those teams in the first five weeks, including the Patriots in their home opener.
In addition to playing each of their NFC North rivals twice, the Vikings play each team from the NFC South and AFC East. They also play the Rams and Redskins because those teams, like the Vikings, finished last in their divisions last season.
Zimmer and his revamped defense will face several formidable quarterbacks, including Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin III, along with NFC North quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers.
The Vikings also will be reunited with former coach Leslie Frazier, now coordinating the Buccaneers defense, and former defensive end Jared Allen, who signed with the Bears.
They will also have to contend with the elements at home, an unfamiliar experience for these Vikings.