The Vikings, who enjoy one of the best home-field advantages in football, had none in 2020. They hope to get it back in 2021.
With plans in place to end COVID-19 restrictions in Minnesota by July 1, the Vikings look forward to a full house at U.S. Bank Stadium this season. Before that, they hope to have solid crowds every day at training camp.
“The next thing up is training camp, so we want to bring 4,000 to 5,000 people a day to training camp, which then leads into our preseason,’’ Vikings executive V.P. of public affairs Lester Bagley told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “A lot of work to be done and we need to bring the vaccination rate up and get that 70 percent that the governor has talked about.’’
Governor Tim Walz currently plans to end all statewide COVID-19 restrictions after June 30. He could relax standards sooner than that, if the state reaches a vaccination rate of 70 percent.
“We’re hopeful in evaluating the governor’s latest information and marching forward to training camp and hopefully a season with full houses at U.S. Bank Stadium,” Bagley said. “We’re encouraged by the governor’s announcement and the fact that [training camp is] outside, but it’s also important to our football team, it’s important to our brand to bring our fans there. That’s a top priority for our organization for 2021 is a return of fans starting with training camp and then obviously U.S. Bank Stadium to follow.”
That will be huge for the Vikings, both financially and competitively. With some states and stadiums already destined to throw the doors open for 2021, other teams will face a strategic disadvantage if their stadiums aren’t full. The Vikings were hampered in 2020 with no fans present for the full season; this year, more fans will mean more noise will mean more disruptions for the opponent and, in turn, will mean more chances to win.
In 2020, the Vikings started 0-3 and then 1-4 at home. They finished 3-5 at home, and 4-4 on the road. In most years, a 4-4 record away from Minnesota would guarantee a record of at least 9-7 if not 10-6 or 11-5 based on the team’s success in its own stadium.