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Sports Nuggets: Great Outdoors Is The Vikings’ Best Option

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(credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

(credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

(credit: CBS) Eric Nelson
Eric was born in Southern California and grew up playing sports in the...
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Editor’s Note: Thanks for checking out Sports Nuggets. Below is Eric Nelson’s opinion on the Vikings stadium issue. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment area at the bottom of the piece.

By Eric Nelson, WCCO-TV

The Minnesota Vikings stadium situation has reached a crisis stage. If a new venue is not approved by Minnesota politicians, the Vikes could take their business elsewhere.

Building a new Purple playpen is a no-brainer. Their current home — the bargain-basement Metrodome — is a joke. In December, after a battering blizzard, the Metrodome’s teflon roof caved in under an avalanche of snow. The deflated dome quickly became a comics dream. Even NBC’s Jay Leno poked fun at the punctured pillow on the Tonight Show.

However, the stadium situation is no joke. The time clearly is now to get this done. If not, the Vikings might take a cue from the Lakers and North Stars and leave the Twin Cities.

Another Dome Means More Doom

If Minnesota builds a new stadium, it SHOULD NOT be a hard-shell dome. That would be FOOLISH. No one builds fixed-roof domes anymore — that was a trend in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. It is not done in 2011.

The Vikings need an open air stadium, so they can return to the elements and play in Minnesota’s theater of seasons. The snow, rain, heat, sun and wind should be part of a Vikings game day experience.

The most memorable moments in Vikings history happened at Bloomington’s old Met Stadium, where the team’s yearly success put them on the NFL map. Between 1968 and 1979, Minnesota morphed into a superpower, and the purple’s popularity blossomed, creating a fan base from coast to coast.

TOV Vs. TIV Is No Contest

Technically speaking, there have been 50 seasons of Minnesota Vikings football. However, in reality there have been two Viking franchises: The Outdoor Vikes (TOV) and The Indoor Vikes (TIV).

Comparing TOV to TIV is no comparison. TOV had a frozen mystique that gave the team an identity. TOV fostered the Purple People Eaters, tailgating, and Met Stadium weather snapshots that include postcard-like fall days and winter wonderland playoff games in frigid weather.

TIV have no identity. They are one of the NFL’s cookie-cutter teams, playing in the homogeneous and sterile Metrodome. In the drab and dreary dome every game is groundhog game — the exact same setting from week to week and from year to year. Nothing changes except the players and coaches.

TOV played in four Super Bowls while TIV have never played in a Super Bowl.

TOV once had the same rugged, weather-tested image that the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots currently enjoy.

Bring Back Minnesota’s Home Tundra Advantage

Viking fans got a chance to turn back the clock in December when Minnesota hosted Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium on the U of M campus. The Viking fans who showed up had a blast watching the game in a snowstorm — despite seeing the purple get pummeled 40-14.

The game was a flashback to the way NFL games used to be in Minnesota.

In 2010, the NFL Network ranked Met Stadium as the 10th best home field advantage in NFL history. Yes, the Vikings once had their own frozen tundra that spooked opposing teams — especially from tropical places like Los Angeles, Miami and Tampa Bay.

Back in the day Minnesota was the NFL’s North Pole and Viking games in the elements garnered huge TV ratings and created fantastic fan memories.

Minnesota needs to get that back and can, because the last time I checked it still snows in the Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes.

The Purple Should Be Priority 1

The top priority in the stadium debate should be providing the Vikings with a state-of-the-art outdoor home — just like the Twins have with trendy Target Field, the Gophers with TCF Bank Stadium, and the Wild with the Xcel Energy Center. The Vikings popularity dwarfs any other team in the state. Protecting the purple and keeping the NFL shield in Minnesota is crucial.

The Vikings need an open-air stadium in the suburbs with a footprint big enough for tailgating, a team Hall of Fame and other development options.

If Minnesota has to have a covered facility for rollerblading, NCAA basketball games, college baseball and tractor-truck pulls, keep the Metrodome. Use some of the new stadium’s taxpayer-generated money to pay the yearly tab that would keep the Metrodome afloat.

Give The Vikings Their Identity Back

The biggest blunder in Vikings history wasn’t Mike Lynn’s trade for Herschel Walker, their countless post-season failures, or allowing Brett Favre to run the team. No, it was when the Vikings moved from the great outdoors to the climate-controlled indoors.

Since then the Super Bowl appearances have vanished and dome games are nothing more than an artificially enhanced rock concert.

Minnesota can right the wrong by returning the Vikings back where they belong — in the elements.

It’s time the Minnesota Vikings get their identity back.

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