By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A letter from the Minnesota Vikings is showing up in ticket holders’ mailboxes Tuesday, explaining how COVID-19’s uncertainties are changing the game.

The team is struggling to develop plans for the upcoming season in a way that can maintain player, staff and fan safety. Zach Sloane is a four-year season ticket holder.

“I’d like to attend if it feels safe and it’s reasonable to do so,” Sloane said.

He grew up in Minnesota cheering on the Vikings, but now has to commute from Madison, Wisconsin to attend games. He says despite the strict limits on the number of fans allowed into U.S. Bank Stadium, he’s keeping his tickets.

The team outlined in the letter to all 60,000 season ticket holders that Stadium Builder’s License owners (SBL) will get seating preference in a reduced-seating configuration. The strict reduction will be necessary to comply with social distancing protocols. Of the eight regular season home games, Sloane understands he will be lucky to attend but a few.

(credit: CBS)

“I would guess maybe it would be two, three games. I’ll try to see if they can space two seats around me in all directions,” Sloane said.

The team’s letter spells out two main options. Ticket holders can choose to keep the 2020 ticket package or opt out for a credit given on next season. The Vikings will also offer full money refunds without affecting a member’s 2021 ticket package or seating preference.

In any event, the Vikings say the gameday experience will be dramatically different this season due to COVID-19 concerns. Fans should expect required face coverings, seating reconfigurations reflecting fewer fans, and staggered entrance times. There could also be additional mandated safety protocols required by the NFL, federal and state governments.

“It’s nice to see the Vikings take a stand that says we’re going to require masks, going to reduce capacity and just say that flat out,” Sloane said.

The Vikings declined further comment, saying only each NFL team will comply with all required restrictions to keep players, staff and fans safe.

“Living in Wisconsin, we’re always socially distanced as Vikings fans, so I’m used to it,” Sloane said.

The final plan expected in the coming weeks must be approved by Gov. Tim Walz.

The NFL Player’s Union announced Tuesday that 95 players have already tested positive for COVID-19.

Bill Hudson

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