EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- When the Minnesota Vikings prepared to move into TCF Bank Stadium for two years, they did a temperature study of the stadium that led them to switch from the south sideline -- where the University of Minnesota football team sets up at the stadium -- to the north sideline. Because of the shadows created by the press box and the suites on the south side of the stadium, the Vikings figured the north sideline would be sunnier, and therefore warmer, during cold-weather games late in the season.
What they didn't know is exactly how big a difference it would make.
The Vikings checked the temperature during last Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers -- where it was 12 degrees at kickoff -- and found there was a 20-degree difference between the north and south sidelines, coach Mike Zimmer said. By the middle of the game, shadows were covering most of the field but the Vikings' sideline, and Zimmer said he had several players thank him for the Vikings' decision to switch sidelines.
"We knew it would be big, because we did the temperature study, the sun, the wind, the whole bit," Zimmer said. "I’d be lying if I said I knew it was going to be 20 degrees."
The Vikings had checked the temperature during their previous two home games (on Nov. 2 against Washington and Nov. 23 against Green Bay), and found a 15-degree difference during one and a 17-degree difference during the other. Having sat on both the north and south ends of the stadium for Gophers games, I can attest to the fact there's a noticeable difference in temperature. The Panthers looked at times like they wanted little to do with the cold weather, and sitting in the shade when they were on the sideline couldn't have helped. Perhaps it will give the Vikings an edge during their two remaining December home games.
Temperatures are supposed to be in the 30s on Sunday, so the cold won't be as big of a factor this week as it was against Carolina. But in the meantime, those of you who stayed on the south sideline last Sunday might well have earned those certificates of participation that the Vikings sent out to fans who attended the Panthers game.