No team has ever played a Super Bowl in its home stadium, and no team has even hosted a conference championship game with a chance to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. So the NFL is accustomed to having plenty of time to prepare the Super Bowl host stadium, without any games being played there.
This year could be different: The Super Bowl will be played at the Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings will play a home playoff game on Sunday and would host the NFC Championship Game a week later if they beat the Saints and the Falcons beat the Eagles. That would mean the stadium would be in use while the NFL is usually in the process of doing things like preparing the extra space needed for the additional press and international broadcasts that come with the Super Bowl, and preparing the security perimeter that is built up around the Super Bowl stadium.
Peter O’Reilly, the league’s senior vice president of events, told Albert Breer of SI.com that the league would ordinarily be doing work on the Super Bowl host stadium more than two weeks ahead of the game but will have to change some of its preparations if U.S. Bank Stadium is hosting the NFC Championship Game.
“The good thing is there is a really detailed contingency plan in place that hasn’t had to be rolled out before, but is in place. We’ve been talking with the Vikings and the host committee throughout the back-half of this regular season on a regular basis on all the different scenarios. It adds another factor for sure, but we feel good about the planning in place,” O’Reilly said.
When the NFL originally chose Minnesota to host Super Bowl LII, the plan was for the NFC team to practice at the University of Minnesota and the AFC team to practice at the Vikings’ facility. But if the Vikings are in the Super Bowl, the NFL is going to let them practice at their own facility and send the AFC team to the University of Minnesota. That’s an advantage for the Vikings that previous Super Bowl teams haven’t had. The Vikings would also presumably have more of their own fans in the stadium than Super Bowl teams ordinarily do, although tickets are allocated differently for the Super Bowl, so it wouldn’t be the equivalent of a Vikings home game.
If nothing else, the prospect of a Vikings appearance at the Super Bowl is the prospect of something unique in NFL history. After 51 Super Bowls, we haven’t had a team play on its home field yet.