As dozens of workers shoveled the TCF Bank Stadium stands Wednesday, University of Minnesota officials said they're confident the facility will be ready for the Vikings-Bears game.
The Vikings approached the university about hosting Monday's NFL game after the Metrodome roof collapsed early Sunday under the weight of 17 inches of snow.
TCF Bank Stadium has been idle since Nov. 27. The university is hiring workers at $10 an hour to shovel snow in the stands into long black chutes that spill out onto the field. Tall hills of snow topping 12 feet build up at the bottom of the chutes before Bobcats crews come by and scoop them up. The university is storing the snow at a field on its St Paul campus.
The TCF field is still covered with about 5 inches of snow. A bigger problem, though, is that the field is frozen solid.
University of Minnesota spokesman Dan Wolter said the field is too hard a surface for football. University staff is working closely with the NFL to solve that problem, he said.
Wolter said possible solutions involve heating devices and tarps. He said university workers are also taking steps to make sure the stadium's water pipes don't burst because of low temperatures.
Problems also remain with ticketing. TCF Bank Stadium has 50,000 seats, while the Vikings have about 54,000 season ticket holders.
"So those numbers obviously don't mesh," Wolter said. "So we're looking to see what other options we have to accommodate all of their fans."
The options include adding seating, possibly in a section of TCF Bank Stadium, Wolter said. The Vikings would foot the bill; they'll also pay the university's cost for snow removal from the stadium.
And then there are the smaller details - such as the comfort of the fans. Wolter says there are no plans to help folks stay warm during the game.
And though Wolter said there were discussions about lifting the university's ban on selling alcohol for Monday night's game, the Vikings announced Thursday afternoon that no alcohol would be sold.
University officials said all their regular food vendors will also return for the game.