Vikings ready stadium, fans for ice-cold playoff game

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings' first outdoor home playoff game in more than 39 years could be the coldest in their history, with temperatures projected to hit a high of 1 degree Sunday.

Before the Vikings face the Seattle Seahawks in what is forecast to be one of the coldest games in NFL history, they are taking steps to help fans brave frigid weather during a playoff game for the first time in two generations.

The Vikings announced Thursday that they will provide hand warmers at entry gates Sunday, and Caribou Coffee will provide free coffee in the Vikings' fan zone southwest of TCF Bank Stadium. The University of Minnesota will also open Mariucci Arena -- where the Gophers' men's hockey team plays -- as a warming house for fans beginning three hours before kickoff.

The team said it will allow non-battery-operated blankets in the stadium and encouraged fans to bring Styrofoam, cardboard or newspapers to place under their feet. TCF Bank Stadium, which was built in 2009, has bleacher seating in the corners and end zones.

"We know Minnesotans are resilient when it comes to cold weather and unified when it comes to the Vikings, so we view this Sunday's game as a rallying moment," Vikings president Mark Wilf said in a statement. "At the same time, we want our fans to be smart and safe when they are supporting the team, and we are taking a few extra steps to assist in that effort this Sunday."

According to Accuweather.com, the "RealFeel" for Sunday's game will be minus-23 degrees.

The coldest home game in Vikings history was Dec. 3, 1972, with a temperature of minus-2 at kickoff. The field at Metropolitan Stadium that day was "like painted concrete," Vikings Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller said Thursday morning.

If the temperature is below zero at kickoff Sunday, it will be one of the six coldest playoff games in NFL history. The last playoff game with a subzero temperature at kickoff was the 2007 NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants, when it was minus-1 at Lambeau Field.

The Vikings' frigid day at their temporary home on the University of Minnesota campus could also be their last; they will move back indoors next year, when U.S. Bank Stadium is scheduled to open in downtown Minneapolis.