Giants-Vikings moved to Ford Field
MINNEAPOLIS -- Detroit's Ford Field will host the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings game Monday night, moved from Minneapolis after the Metrodome's inflatable Teflon roof collapsed under the weight of snow from a heavy storm that passed through Saturday.
The game, with a 7:20 p.m. ET kickoff, had already been postponed from Sunday after the Giants' flight was diverted Saturday to Kansas City as Minnesota air travel was shut down.
"At this point I would play this game in a parking lot," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said in a text to ESPN.com's Matt Mosley on Sunday.
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chairman Roy Terwilliger said he's optimistic the roof can be repaired in time for the Vikings to host the Chicago Bears in their next scheduled home game on Dec. 20, giving workers eight days to replace three damaged panels and re-raise the Teflon roof.
The roof collapsed about 5 a.m. Sunday.
"We've worked particularly close with the Vikings over the last two or three years on plans and designs and steps and obviously it can't help but call attention to the fact that the facility is 28 years old," Terwilliger said. "It's one of the oldest facilities in the NFL. There's a problem when we run this risk of not being able to play a game, because it's a huge economic hit to the team. But the policymakers will handle these issues."
A large section of the roof lay torn and whipping in the wind in the stadium's north end zone later in the day, and snow that had fallen through the rip covered much of the field. Maki said workers were working with the manufacturer of the roof material on plans to repair and replace damaged pieces. He said there didn't appear to be any other damage to the stadium.
"There were no injuries, which we're thankful for," said Bill Lester, the executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.
On Sunday morning, six workers could be seen on the concrete rim of the stadium, shoveling off snow. The roof, a white bubble criss-crossed with cables holding it in place, could no longer be seen from the street.
A leak on the roof had formed Saturday as snow accumulated, ESPN's Ed Werder reported.
Ticket holders for the game will be admitted and given preferred seating along the 50-yard line, the Vikings said in a statement. Free general admission tickets will be available at the Ford Field box office beginning at 9 a.m. ET. Refunds will also be given to original ticket holders.
Aramark, the Vikings' food preparer, is donating all the food prepared for the postponed game to a food shelf.
Aramark general manager Corey Hedrick called it "an easy decision" to give all the prepared food to Minneapolis-based Twin Cities Second Harvest Heartland.
The University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, about five miles from the Metrodome, was considered briefly as a site for the game, but it was shut down for the winter and would have needed several days to prepare for an NFL game.
Removing snow, figuring out how to cram 64,000 Metrodome fans into a 50,000-seat stadium, and the fact that the Giants did not bring any cold-weather gear with them from New York for what would have been a brutally frigid night game combined to make that site problematic.
"It's Detroit. Good call. Makes sense," Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter.
Minneapolis got 17.1 inches of snow during the storm that started Friday night and ended around 10 p.m. Saturday, said James McQuirter, a National Weather Service meteorologist. He said the storm was one of the five largest to hit the Twin Cities. Some surrounding communities got more than 21 inches of snow, he said.
The Metrodome roof has failed three times before. It deflated in 1981, 1982 and 1983, each time due to tears caused by heavy snow. The April 14, 1983, collapse forced the postponement of the Twins' game with California, which had been the only postponement. A slight tear also delayed a Twins game briefly in 1986.
The Giants (8-4) and Vikings (5-7) were originally scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, but the game was postponed until 8 p.m. ET Monday. Fox was to have regional coverage of the game in both Minnesota and New York and the game will be available nationally for NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers on DirecTV.
The Giants flew from Kansas City to Detroit on a charter flight midday Sunday.
"They have been in great spirits and really taken it in stride really well -- laughing and joking about it," Giants CEO John Mara said. "They have taken it about as well as possibly expected, and that includes the head coach by the way."
Mara, speaking from the plane via conference call as the team waited to take off, said the Giants haven't done anything physical during their day-long layover and, beyond a hotel walkthrough, weren't expected to before kickoff.
"We were contemplating asking the Kansas City Chiefs to use their bubble," Mara said. "But ultimately we made the determination that there was a [small] window to get to Detroit."
It will be the first Monday night game at Ford Field and first in Michigan since the Pontiac Silverdome hosted one in 2001.
"There are still a lot of logistics up in the air, but we will do everything we can to make this a quality NFL game for the Vikings and Giants," Lions president Tom Lewand said.
"I think they have handled this very well," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said of his team. "I think the guys realized right away that it was out of our hands and really out of our control and we fully expected to get into Minnesota and that didn't work."
When asked about the playing status of receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, both listed questionable but expected to play, Coughlin said, "We will see how that goes. Tomorrow the decision will be made on both of those guys."
The schedule change gave Brett Favre another 31 hours for his injured shoulder to recuperate. The Vikings quarterback has started an NFL-record 297 consecutive games.
Favre sent a text message to USA Today on Sunday saying he doubts he will be able to play on Monday night "but it does buy a little time."
Favre said the streak would have ended if the game had been played Sunday.
"I wasn't playing [Sunday], but we'll see how it feels" Favre told ESPN's Werder late Saturday night in a text message.
Interim coach Leslie Frazier said the 41-year-old quarterback will still go through a pregame workout to determine if he's able to play.
"From everything I've seen, there is still a possibility he could play, especially with an extra day," Frazier said in a conference call Sunday before the Vikings departed for Detroit.
The Vikings held a short walkthrough Sunday afternoon, but Favre did not do any throwing.
"Rest is as important as anything to him," Frazier said, "and the fact that he's actually going through the throwing motion, we'll still get a chance to test some things out [Monday]."
The Vikings will enter the final year of their lease at the Metrodome next season and have been lobbying for a new building for about a decade.
The Vikings have previously pledged roughly one-third of the cost for a new stadium, which would cost at least $700 million, according to past estimates. But the team has had difficulty getting much traction with the state legislature on public funding to pay for the rest, with lawmakers pointing to huge state deficits that need to be addressed first.
The team has been contacted by two Los Angeles-based groups interested in bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles, but so far has said it remains "committed to finding a solution in Minnesota."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk was used in this report.
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