The Vikings announced recently that the 2013 season will be the team’s last in the noisy indoor Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (aka the Mall of America Stadium along with a number of pseudonyms not printable here). The purple and gold will play their home games during the 2014 and 2015 seasons at outdoor TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Gophers, while a new indoor stadium is built.
Will the Green Bay Packers take it to the bank at TCF Bank Stadium or fall into a Gopher Hole?
Evidence suggests the Packers will gain an extra edge against the Vikings as a result of the Vikings’ temporary relocation.
Noise levels at the Metrodome have measured as high as 125 decibels. According to American Hearing Research Foundation, exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause a gradual hearing loss. The Metrodome holds slightly more than 64,000 fans, while the open-air seating capacity of TCF Bank Stadium is approximately 50,800.
You think 125-decible noise levels impacted Mason Crosby on Nov. 9, 2008, when he missed a 52-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining that would have given the Packers a 30-28 lead?
Did the noise have anything to do with the momentum changing in the Metrodome on Oct. 5, 2009, when Aaron Rodgers was sacked and fumbled the ball at the Viking 33? The Favre-led Vikings went on to score on their next drive in a game Minnesota eventually won 30-23.
“The toughest thing for me is losing my voice, screaming from the first quarter on,” Aaron Rodgers told the Journal Sentinel in 2010. “The toughest stretches are first quarter and drives after a (Vikings) score because the crowd is obviously into it.”
An equally important question is, does the noise matter to the Vikings? Minnesota was 10-2 in domes in 2012-13. However, they were 0-5 in outdoor stadiums.
Less noise at TCF Bank Stadium = Advantage Packers.
Weathering a Storm
When the Vikings move to the Gophers’ outdoor stadium in 2014 and 2015, Minnesota will become the second worst weather city in the NFL, according to the Weather Channel. Green Bay is the fifth worst. Minnesota is not currently on the list because it plays indoors.
So one could reasonably make the case the Packers are more pre-conditioned to play in bad weather, especially in December. You can’t say that about Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings (if he lasts that long).
In December 2012, the Vikings’ only loss was outdoors at Lambeau Field on Dec. 2, when the temperature was a still-cozy 45 degrees. The four Viking December victories occurred inside weather-controlled domes against Chicago in the Metrodome, St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome, Houston at Reliant Stadium (retractable roof closed), and the Packers at the Metrodome.
The Packers, meanwhile, did not lose an outdoor game in December 2012. As previously mentioned, they beat Minnesota in 45 degree weather at Lambeau; beat the Lions in 33 degree weather at Lambeau; beat the Bears in 45 degree weather at Soldier Field; and beat the Titans in 24 degree weather at Lambeau. As for the playoffs, the Packers beat the Vikings in 24 degree weather at Lambeau.
Worse weather at TCF Bank Stadium in December = Advantage Packers.
Key Player Performances Outdoors
The Vikings and Christian Ponder last year could not figure out how to win a game in an outdoor stadium. As Zach Kruse of Cheeseheadtv.com pointed out in an article in January 2013, Ponder’s QB rating in outdoor stadiums last season was poor, compared to a respectable rating indoors.
Aaron Rodgers’ QB rating is among the best in the league indoors and outdoors, year-in and year-out.
How well does Adrian Peterson do in the elements? There was no drop-off in his performance in outdoor games in 2012 (he rushed for 210 yards at Green Bay in December). But Peterson was not a major factor in outdoor games in 2011 (51 yards and one touchdown at Lambeau; 39 yards rushing, one touchdown at Soldier Field).
Adrian himself has this to say about his preference in a recent chat session on ESPN.com.
Would you rather have a roof in the new stadium or battle the elements during the winter months?
Yes, I want a roof. A retractable roof would be great. Yes.
Adrian Peterson not a big fan of playing outdoors and Ponder’s poor record playing outdoors = Advantage Packers.
The Gopher Hole has not provided a great home field advantage in the pros or the college ranks. The Wisconsin Badgers beat the Minnesota Gophers for the Paul Bunyan’s Axe in 2009 and 2011 at TCF Bank Stadium, the only two times the teams played each other at the venue.
The Vikings hosted the Bears at TCF Bank Stadium on Dec. 20, 2010, due to a heavy snow that collapsed the Metrodome roof. It was the Vikings’ first outdoor home game in 29 years. The temperature was 24 degrees, the wind chill 10. Vikings’ Punter Chris Kluwe commented that the field was hard as concrete and players who hit the ground could get concussions. In fact, ironman Brett Favre, the Vikings’ quarterback that season, was knocked out of the game after his head hit the ground.
The final score: Bears 40, Vikings 14. OK, it’s only one game, but what a humiliation.
Zero stadium mystique and Vikings .000 winning percentage at TCF Bank Stadium = Advantage Packers.
The History of Temporary Relocations
Remember when the Chicago Bears relocated to the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in 2002 while Soldier Field was renovated? The Bears went from a 13-3 team in 2001 to a 4-12 team in 2002.
The Vikings have more of an adjustment to make than the Packers when the Vikings move to TCF Bank Stadium for 2014 and 2015. This also means it may be noisier in the Metrodome for the Packers in 2013 as Viking fans say goodbye to the stadium in its final hurrah. Expect more hostility than usual at the Metrodome in 2013, then a noticeable drop-off in the home field advantage for the Vikes in 2014 and 2015.