EAGAN, Minn. — Looks like we'll all start the season watching the Vikings from home.
The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that no fans will be allowed in U.S. Bank Stadium for the first two home games of the season, Sept. 13 and Sept. 27, because of health concerns and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the team said the decision was based on conversations with the Minnesota Department of Health, NFL and City of Minneapolis.
Current guidelines from the health department recommend no more than 250 people gather in an indoor venue.
The Vikings say they're working with health officials to potentially welcome fans back to U.S. Bank Stadium later in the season.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer may not be thrilled about not having fans in the stadium to start the season, but he understands the logic.
“Leaving up to the city governments,” Zimmer says. “We unfortunately can only have 250 people. It wasn’t worth the cost to open up for that few fans.”
That’s not to say the Vikings won’t miss the fans. In fact it’s quite the opposite. While financially it may not be worth it, they players know that without 60-thousand plus screaming for them – they lose a home field advantage.
“The crowd, the noise, the energy, the vibration that you have from that stadium they’re phenomenal,” says Vikings defensive End Eddie Yarbrough. “And when I say it definitely gets our defense going.”
In order to get a feel for what US Bank Stadium will be like with out fans and with piped in sound and music, the team will practice there on Friday. And with or without fans – they know that what’s most important is what they do on the field
“Gary Patterson always tells us that he just wants to play football,” says Vikings offensive lineman Aviante Collins. “We can play football out on a concrete slab or in the grass with nobody watching us. I mean fans definitely help with animosity and bringing that energy.”
“Football is football,” says Yarbrough. “A lot of minutiae in regard to the fans, the theatrics of it all, when it comes down to it it’s what you do between the lines.”
Which is something that’s never changed. Regardless of who, or who isn’t watching.
Read the full statement from the team below:
Over the past several months, we have collaborated with U.S. Bank Stadium partners, the NFL, the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis to determine the best way to safely and responsibly host a limited number of fans at Vikings home games. We have sought to balance the opportunity to provide fan access with the responsibility to adhere to public health and medical guidance in order to maintain the health and safety of fans, players, staff members and the broader community. Ultimately, public health is our top priority.
Based on our conversations and the current Minnesota Department of Health guidelines that specify an indoor venue capacity of 250, we have determined it is not the right time to welcome fans back to U.S. Bank Stadium. As a result, the first two Vikings home games on Sunday, September 13, and Sunday, September 27, will be closed to the public. We will continue to work with the appropriate officials on our plans with the hope of bringing fans back in a safe manner later this season.
Earlier this week, 12 members of the Minnesota Vikings organization, including eight players, tested positive for coronavirus. However, the New Jersey lab that conducted the tests, and other tests for the NFL, said the results were likely false positives.
The Vikings are currently scheduled to start their season hosting the Green Bay Packers. The second home game is a match-up with the Tennessee Titans.