EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Tuesday morning announced the first two home games of the 2020 regular season will be played without fans in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minnesota is scheduled to host Green Bay for the first time ever on a Kickoff Weekend on Sunday, Sept. 13, and Tennessee for the first time at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 27. Both games remain scheduled for noon (CT).
The team issued the following statement:
"Over the past several months, we have collaborated with U.S. Bank Stadium partners, the NFL, the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis to determine the best way to safely and responsibly host a limited number of fans at Vikings home games. We have sought to balance the opportunity to provide fan access with the responsibility to adhere to public health and medical guidance in order to maintain the health and safety of fans, players, staff members and the broader community. Ultimately, public health is our top priority.
"Based on our conversations and the current Minnesota Department of Health guidelines that specify an indoor venue capacity of 250, we have determined it is not the right time to welcome fans back to U.S. Bank Stadium. As a result, the first two Vikings home games on Sunday, Sept. 13, and Sunday, Sept. 27, will be closed to the public. We will continue to work with the appropriate officials on our plans with the hope of bringing fans back in a safe manner later this season."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is planning to hold Friday's Verizon Vikings Training Camp practice at U.S. Bank Stadium so that players — some of which have never been to the venue that opened in 2016 — can try to get their game-day routines in place.
Normally players and coaches have the benefit of two home and two preseason games to acclimate, but this year's exhibition slate was canceled and the offseason program was altered as the goal turned toward the regular season.
Zimmer was asked Friday about the plan for crowd noise and said a track between 80 and 90 decibels will be played at multiple stadiums.
"It just plays the same noise the entire time. So for both, home and away, and you don't really get to do any SKOL Chants or anything like that," Zimmer said. "I think television is going to pipe it into their broadcast, but as far as in the stadium, it's going to be very stagnant. Just background noise. Which makes a lot of sense, right?"
The Vikings are 23-9 through four regular seasons at U.S. Bank Stadium and 1-0 in the playoffs.
Zimmer's first two seasons in Minnesota (2014-15) were played outdoors at the University of Minnesota while U.S. Bank Stadium was constructed on the former site of the Metrodome. He helped the Vikings become the first (out of eight) teams in a temporary home to make the playoffs.
He was adamant in 2016 that home-field advantage wouldn't automatically occur at the new venue, saying it was up to the team to give fans reasons to cheer. Zimmer also, however, has heaped on plenty of credit to Vikings fans for the role they play on game days.
Zimmer said it will be "very hard" to create a home-field advantage under the current situation.
"Some stadiums, they're allowing people in, and it looks like we're not going to have any fans there early, which really stinks because we have such unbelievable fans, and they make that place rocking every Sunday," Zimmer said. "But the best way to have home-field advantage is to play really good – execute, make tackles, don't make mistakes, don't commit penalties, turnovers, all those things. That's why we're going to have to be so disciplined in the way we approach these things, and to go out and just be a better team than the other team that we're playing."