As the annual wave of 0-0 hope spreads through the NFL, there’s reason to be concerned in Minnesota.
Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press explains that NFL teams playing temporarily in different stadiums have struggled in the past. For the next two years, that’s what the Vikings will be doing, moving from the already-gone-for-good Metrodome and playing outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium while the team’s swanky new venue is constructed.
Tomasson points to teams like the Giants, who played at the Yale Bowl and Shea Stadium before landing in the Meadowlands, and the Ravens, who spent two years in Memorial Stadium after moving to Baltimore, to the Titans, who spent a year at the Liberty Bowl and then at Vanderbilt Stadium, to the Seahawks, who played a pair of seasons at the University of Washington before christening CenturyLink Field, to the Bears, who played a season at the University of Illinois while Soldier Field was renovated, to the Saints, who involuntarily were displaced from the Superdome by Hurricane Katrina.
The sample size is likely too small to provide a reliable prediction for other teams that will take a detour to a temporary home. Indeed, plenty of teams saw a dip upon moving directly from an old stadium to a new one, like the 1992 Falcons (who plunged from 10-6 to 6-10), the 1998 Buccaneers (who slipped from 10-6 to 8-8), the 2001 Broncos (who fell from 11-5 to 8-8), and the 2002 Patriots (who went from winning the Super Bowl to missing the playoffs).
Other teams have improved upon moving to a new home, like the Steelers (who closed out Three Rivers Stadium at 9-7 and shot to 13-3 the next year). Others have stayed the same, the like Eagles (who had identical 12-4 seasons the last year at Veterans Stadium and the first year at Lincoln Financial Field). It just doesn’t happen enough for reliable trends to emerge.
For the Vikings, the bigger problem will be playing home games outdoors for two years before returning inside. The inevitability of wind and cold and precipitation affects the manner in which a team is built. To be successful the next two seasons, the Vikings need to build a team that can thrive in the elements. Then, after two years playing outside, it’ll be time to reconfigure the team to get the most out of playing indoors.
For that reason, it would be better if the Vikings were simply moving from one indoor stadium to another.
It also would be better if the Vikings had a better quarterback. All the teams that struggled when playing in temporary stadiums possibly had a hard time because they weren’t very good. If a coaching change and a looming offseason of free-agency moves and draft picks can make the Vikings better, it really won’t matter where they play.
If the Vikings end up not improving, it likewise won’t matter where they play.