The Gophers are moving up their annual spring football game to Thursday evening, from Saturday afternoon, to avoid what could be an especially bad April weather weekend.
The weekend forecast already has scared off Wisconsin and Iowa State. The Badgers announced Tuesday that their spring game was outright canceled, and the Cyclones announced Monday they had canceled their game as well.
Gophers officials spent Tuesday rearranging their plans, including working with the Big Ten Network, determined to get their game in. The game will begin at 6 p.m., and it will be streamed live on BTN2GO and shown at 8 p.m. on the BTN’s main channel on a tape-delay basis. The game will be at TCF Bank Stadium, and tickets are free.
The Thursday forecast in Minneapolis calls for highs in the low 50s, with a low of 36. It gets much worse from there: highs in the upper 30s with rain on Friday, and temps in the 20s and low 30s with snow, rain and wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour on Saturday.
“The spring game is a reward for our players and fans, so canceling it was not an option,” coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “Moving the game from Saturday to Thursday enables us to keep it outside at TCF Bank Stadium so fans can watch our team. It will also provide a safe environment for everyone involved and will allow for our coaching staff to evaluate players in a gamelike setting. We recognize that some of our fans, especially those with families, were planning to come to the game on Saturday, so we will schedule a fan event with our team that allows for them to connect with our student-athletes later this year.”
The game will feature Team Maroon, coached by offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and captained by linebacker Thomas Barber, vs. Team Gold, coached by defensive coordinator Robb Smith and captained by running back Rodney Smith. The team rosters were decided by a draft.
Except for postgame autographs, most of the activities scheduled for Saturday still will take place Thursday.
• Parking in Lot 37 and the Maroon, Gold and Victory lots will be $4, while parking in the Gopher lot will be $6. The lots open at 3 p.m. for spring game attendees. These lots are used by university staff and students during the day, so space might be limited. Tailgating will not be permitted.
• There will be a pregame fan fest hosted by Abbott, the presenting sponsor of the game, from 4-6 p.m. near Gate A. There will be free food, music and children’s activities.
• Gate A opens for fan entry at 5 p.m.