MINNEAPOLIS – The plan for the use of TCF Bank Stadium by the Minnesota Vikings for two years is one step away from approval. The Regents Facilities Committee voted unanimously Thursday to approve the plan.
The $6.6 million upgrade to the college stadium will be paid for entirely by the Vikings and is to be completed by the fall of 2014, when the Vikings first of two seasons in TCF Bank Stadium begins.
As part of the plan, a new artificial turf will be installed including logos and markings for the Vikings and the Gophers. A hydronic heat system will be installed under the playing surface since NFL games are played later in the season than college games.
Several areas of the stadium will be "winterized."
"It is for the generalized areas of the restrooms, the elevator lobby, the entry points and, of course, the marshalling area which is the truck dock area," said Suzanne Smith, U of M Vice President.
Since TCF Bank Stadium is smaller (50,000 capacity) than the Vikings' season ticket base (53,000) a section of bleachers will add 1750 seats in the open end of the stadium.
"We feel a combination of the people in the bleachers and in the stands that we will be able to accommodate our season ticket holders," said Kevin Warren, Vikings Vice President for Legal Affairs.
The Vikings have said previously that they do not expect all 53,000 season ticket holders to renew their seats during the two years the Vikings play on the campus.
One regent voiced "nervousness" about the plan, although he voted for approval.
"Where my nervousness comes in is the fact that we have a National Football League game or games on a University campus of some, say, 40-50,000 students and staff. (I fear) the potential of student safety and some conduct that's unbecoming on a Sunday afternoon, " said Regent Dean Johnson.
"I think your comments are appropriate and well placed and I know that's a goal that's shared by the athletics department and by the Minnesota Vikings," responded Pam Wheelock, U of M Vice President.
Outside the committee room, Warren insisted the Vikings will respect the campus location.
"We have a Vikings code of conduct. We've worked very hard on that. I think there's only been zero or one arrest per game at the Metrodome for the last couple of years," Warren said.
Final approval of the Vikings/TCF plan is expected at the meeting of the full Board of Regents.