MINNEAPOLIS — U.S. Bank Stadium has drawn rave reviews in its first five seasons of hosting Vikings football games.
It has reinforced its commitment to clean, safe practices thanks to the Ecolab Science Certified™ program.
The venue that opened in 2016 met numerous environmental standards and boosted fans' experiences in the first four seasons. Minnesota enjoyed one of the best home-field advantages in the league, going 23-9 in regular-season home games between 2016-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced home games to be played without fans in attendance in 2020.
Fans are set to return in full-force at a regular-season game Sunday when Minnesota hosts Seattle at 3:25 p.m. (CT).
In preparation for the first regular-season home game with fans since Dec. 29, 2019, U.S. Bank implemented the Ecolab Science Certified program, which included an audit conducted by three public health and food saftey experts who visited Minnesota's preseason contest against Indianapolis on Aug. 21.
U.S. Bank Stadium and the workers who implement health and food safety protocols passed the audit and earned the Ecolab Science Certified seal, demonstrating the stadium's commitment to cleanliness. The venue joined other major sports venues around the Twin Cities in earning the seal.
Lisa Robinson, Ecolab Vice President of Global Food Safety and Public Health, has more than 30 years of experience in food safety and regulatory compliance. Robinson led the Ecolab team that developed the audit process.
Robinson said the audit evaluates protocols implemented to help reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus and other germs, as well as other important public health and food safety measures.
"We look at food safety protocols, like are you at the right temperatures with your products? Or if something that is supposed to be cooled is being refrigerated correctly," Robinson said. "We review local regulations for some of our public health audit components. Some local jurisdictions, if we're supposed to have masking, is that being done? Physical distancing, is that being done?"
Other aspects evaluated are pest control, water management and air filtration systems.
The evaluations of U.S. Bank Stadium included assessments when the building was not hosting an event, as well as the preseason game against the Colts.
"We go in when it's empty to understand what programs you have in place, but we also want to see how you operate when you've got fans there," Robinson said. "Let us verify so we can see how it's operating live.
"This program wasn't meant to be just about COVID-19," Robinson added. "It's about helping fans feel more confident in an environment that has practices around cleaning and disinfection."
Robinson said measures implemented can help during cold and flu season and protect against norovirus and foodborne pathogens.
Fans are ready to return, and U.S. Bank Stadium is ready to host.
"We know that fans want to get back, and Ecolab Science Certified can help you with that," Robinson said. "It's a comprehensive program that has science-based products, protocols and training in place. And it's all pulled together with an audit that helps verify those elements are in place to welcome back fans."