The return of Viking football to the great outdoors on Monday night at TCF Bank Stadium brought back memories of the glory days of the late 60's and 70's which featured many memorable moments at Metropolitan Stadium.
One I always remember is the fact that Bud Grant would not allow his players to have heaters on the sidelines. He didn't want them all huddled around the heaters worrying about staying warm. He wanted them watching the game and being ready to do their job when they were needed. It seemed to work pretty well. Was it a bit extreme ... maybe. One thing is certain, it provided the Vikings a real home field advantage, especially in those games against teams like the Rams or 49ers.
When the game started on Monday night it was impossible to dismiss the fact that there was a different feel to this game. Just looking at the pictures from the stadium that night made me cold. Minnesota fans have always been able to handle the cold. They just grab their snowmobile suits, ski masks, long underwear, extra blankets, insulated boots, and head for the stadium. I remember my brother going to many Viking games at the Met, under dressed most likely, but loving every minute of it. I'm sure they are still some of his favorite memories. One year he asked me if I wanted to go watch the Vikings and Rams in a playoff game in late December or early January. The high was supposed to be around 10 above and I wasn't interested!
Picturing guys like Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Mick Tingelhoff, Bill Brown, Dave Osborne, Chuck Foreman, Paul Krausse, Bobby Bryant, Ed Sharockman and Mick Tingelhoff playing in the Metrodome is impossible. They were born to play at the old Met, in all kinds of weather conditions, giving their all for their teammates, coaches and fans and not complaining about the 'hard' field or cold temps. Please.
Having said all that, if the Vikings build a new stadium I am of the opinion that it needs to be an outdoor facility. Football is a game meant to be played in the elements. Football fans of my generation remember the Ice Bowl between Green Bay and Dallas, the NFL Films productions featuring "The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field" and the adjustments players and teams had to make due to slippery, snow covered fields. The fans braving the elements to cheer on their favorite team has led to many great video shots at stadiums around the country. So, I support Ziggy in his claim that an outdoor stadium is the way to go, plus, it is cheaper!
With 50 years of Viking tradition in Minnesota it would be very difficult to see the Vikes leave. Is it a possibility? Absolutely. Will it happen? I don't think so. As my very knowledgeable friends and colleagues point out, Minnesota is too good a market for the NFL to leave. They will probably find a way to get a new stadium built and hopefully all will be well for the next 50 years and beyond.