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Zimmer Seeks to Establish Home-Field Advantage at U.S. Bank Stadium

MINNEAPOLIS — U.S. Bank Stadium officially opened for business Friday, showcasing its fan amenities amidst fanfare of a one could possibly dream of.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was already thinking how to create home-field advantage with help from Vikings fans. He paused from that briefly and became the first person to sound the Gjallarhorn inside the venue.

"I'm not much of an enjoyable person, I guess," Zimmer quipped. "We just kind of … they told me to be here, so I'm here."

Zimmer noted that he was in awe of numerous stadium features including the natural light shining through the ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) material that covers 60 percent of the roof and the pivoting glass doors that are at 55-feet wide and between 75 and 95-feet high. 

But it's the proximity of seats to the field that Zimmer mentioned as a key factor in making it difficult on opposing teams. U.S. Bank Stadium has seats that are the closest to the sidelines in the NFL.

"The other thing that's probably a good thing for fans but bad for me is the seats are right behind the bench – I think they'll be able to hear just about anything I say," Zimmer said.

The Vikings set off booming fireworks immediately after Friday's ribbon cutting ceremony, sending wave after wave of ear-ringing sound through the 1.75 million-square-foot facility.

Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said the deafening sound was just a preview of what will happen when U.S. Bank Stadium is filled with vociferous Vikings fans.

"We want it loud and we want a big home-field advantage, and you're just getting a taste of that," Wilf said. "It's the first time we've heard something loud in here, and it is going to be loud.

"When we have 66,000-plus fans coming in here for Sunday Night Football, the Gjallarhorn getting blown to bring the Vikings out, it's going to be electric," he added. "We can't wait for it to be full-go."

The Vikings will host a pair of preseason games — at noon (CT) on Aug. 28 against the Chargers and at 7 p.m. (CT) on Sept. 1 against the Rams.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said the different start times will help the Vikings acclimate to their indoor home that has an outdoor feel.

"I was sitting there talking to Coach Zim' as the events were going on and we were looking at the sun coming down on the field," Spielman said. "It was like what it's going to look like when kickoff happens. I know the sun changes a little bit later in the year, but it gives you an idea of how the sun is going to set on the field.

"It truly feels like you're outdoors," he added.

Spielman said kicker Blair Walsh and punter Jeff Locke were able to practice at the stadium with the doors open this offseason. Although the stadium is indoors, the goalposts have flags on them to measure the wind in case the doors are open.

The Vikings also have used gauges to learn more about wind patterns in the stadium.

"I know we've already done some studies on wind coming through with the doors open," Spielman said. "This may be the only indoor stadium that actually has flags on the goalposts."

The Vikings went 11-5 over the past two seasons at the University of Minnesota, accumulating the best winning percentage in a temporary stadium in league history.

Minnesota also claimed the NFC North title last season, a measure of success Spielman said he expects to continue at the Vikings new ear-splitting venue.

"TCF became a home-field advantage for us," Spielman said. "We got to the playoffs and won the division, but to finally get into a place we know we're going to call home for a long time, I know from a football side we're very excited.

"But we also have to come in here and make it a home-field advantage," he added. "I have no doubt in my mind that Coach Zimmer is going to make sure our team has that mentality."


View images from the ribbon cutting event to mark the historic opening of U.S. Bank Stadium Friday.


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