An attempt to shame the Minnesota Vikings and U.S. Bank Stadium blew back on a Twin Cities blogger and forced him to shut down his Twitter account by Monday morning.
Jake Nyberg had tweeted on Sunday that U.S. Bank Stadium would open its doors for homeless people because of the bitter -20 degree temperatures and windchills. The false assertion was rerouted to thousands of Twitter followers. National news outlets picked up the story about how the 66,000-seat building would open its doors for the night.
In a series of tweets, Nyberg said it was a proud day to be a Vikings fan. By Monday morning, he was contrite.
"In hindsight, I chose a stupid and shortsighted way to bring attention to what I believe is a worthwhile question — whether it might make sense for a large, warm, publicly funded building to be opened to those experiencing homelessness on a very cold night," he said via e-mail in response to questions. "This obviously backfired, I regret it and sincerely apologize."
His friend @daviddellanave retweeted the bad information to his 14,800 followers. Late Sunday night, Dellanave had apologized.
"I'm sorry if this obviously misguided attempt at highlighting a social issue hurt anyone. Didn't think a tweet would go so far & I regret it."
But when backlash to the fake news grew, Nyberg shut down his account, @jakenyberg. Nyberg said he had deactivated it "in an effort to humbly reassess its use."
The Vikings had a noon Sunday game in the building, which was comfortably warm and full of sunlight despite the chill outside its glassy walls. Vikings officials heard about the fake tweet on Sunday evening. They reached out proactively and responded to numerous media but didn't issue a public statement.
The team provided a brief comment Monday, "It is unfortunate that individuals chose to use a significant issue to deliberately deceive the public."
The new $1.1 billion stadium made an easy target because of its size and the nearly $500 million in public funds to help build it. But opening the building to the homeless would be a complex operation for numerous reasons. The decision would have to be made by multiple entities, including the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), stadium operator SMG and potentially Aramark, the concessionaire in the building. THE MSFA was aware of the false tweets and closely monitored the situation Sunday night, but "no one came to the stadium last night seeking shelter," spokeswoman Jenn Hathaway said. They referred media and other inquiries to qualified shelters serving the homeless, noting it "requires a unique set of resources and skills and there are many great facilities in the metro area that provide these services."
The Twin Cities already have a substantial network of homeless shelters, from People Serving People, a couple of blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium, to the Salvation Army and Mary's Place on the other end of downtown.