We’re starting to get the feeling that the Bears and the Vikings won’t be playing at TCF Bank Stadium, after all.
The condition of the field presents a real concern, given that no system was installed by the University of Minnesota to keep the Field Turf from turning into Field Tundra. (In fairness to the U of M, they shut the place down in November.)
And it’s not just the Bears who are complaining.
“I just hope it’s a safe environment to play in,” tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said Wednesday, per Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “That it’s not going to be hazardous to the players when it comes to field conditions.”
The hazards are footing and, perhaps more importantly, cushion.
“It can be a potentially dangerous situation, but because historically in the past games have been played on frozen fields . . . and there is probably not enough evidence to say, ‘There’s a 60 percent chance of a player getting hurt or whatever,’” linebacker Ben Leber said. “This machine has been going too long and too hard for anything to throw a wrench in it during the week of the game. It’s a valid question, but I don’t think anything could be done.”
The union has remained silent on the issue, but the Bears reportedly will be lodging a complaint about the decision to play the game at TCF Bank Stadium, given the potential field conditions. And that may not go over well with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who seems to be downright giddy about taking the team back outdoors for its first open-air home game since December 20, 1981.
“A lot of people are working very hard to get it done, but we want to assure the fans in the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota that we’re going to have a game in Minnesota,” Wilf said, per Zulgad. “I look forward to being back outdoors the way I was always used to watching games and enjoying games.”
The prevailing thought is that, if the game can’t be played in Minnesota, it would be moved to Atlanta, since ESPN will be there to televise the Week 16 game between the Saints and the Falcons. A decision likely would need to be made by Saturday at the latest, since it will take a day or two to properly wire the stadium for the game and to physically get the cast of thousands (as Chris Berman calls them) to the site of the game.