MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Seattle Seahawks played the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium in December, the teams were treated to unseasonably warm temperatures that hovered above freezing at kickoff, denying Seahawks coach Pete Carroll the true northern experience he missed when he was on the Vikings' coaching staff in the Metrodome in the late 1980s.
"I'm glad we're getting a chance to play outside there, just because of all the days I missed at the Met," Carroll said in December. "We were in the Dome the whole time, and I know we're not getting all the weather that can be had there, but I think the Vikings were always known back in the days, when Bud was there, for playing in the freezing cold and all that stuff. Getting a chance to play them outdoors is good."
The coach will get another chance to face the Vikings outdoors on Sunday. And he'll get his wish -- if, in fact, he's still wishing for frigid temperatures.
AccuWeather's forecast for Sunday calls for a high temperature of zero degrees at TCF Bank Stadium. Considering winter highs in Minnesota often don't occur until the late afternoon, the temperature could be below zero at kickoff, making it one of the coldest games in Vikings history.
If the temperature is below zero at kickoff, it'd be just the second time in team history the Vikings have kicked off in sub-zero temperatures. The first was on Dec. 3, 1972, when it was minus-2 at kickoff between the Vikings and Bears. The next Sunday, temperatures were at zero for the Vikings' game against the Green Bay Packers.
The coldest game the Vikings have played at TCF Bank Stadium was Nov. 30, 2014, when it was 12 degrees at kickoff between the Vikings and Carolina Panthers. The stands weren't packed that day, but the Vikings sent commemorative certificates to fans who had purchased tickets for the game, which was the seventh-coldest in Vikings history.
This week, as the Packers hit the road for their playoff game against the Washington Redskins, the Vikings will have sole claim to the frozen-tundra narrative in the playoffs.
They decided to move to the north sideline at TCF Bank Stadium before they started playing there last year, after a stadium analysis showed temperatures would be noticeably warmer in the sun on that sideline, compared to the late-afternoon shadows on the south side of the stadium. After the Panthers game last year, the Vikings said they found a 20-degree temperature difference between the sidelines.
In what could be their final home game at TCF Bank Stadium, they'll get to use their home-field advantage to full effect, and Carroll might be regretting what he wished for.
"I actually love it; we get to use it to our advantage,” coach Mike Zimmer said last month. “You get teams that aren’t used to playing in the cold weather games and like I said, you get to use it to your advantage. It’s all a mental thing. I’m a big fan of it, actually.”