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U.S. Bank Stadium closed to Twin Cities marathoners before Sunday's race

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U.S. Bank Stadium
Fans arrive at U.S. Bank Stadium before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 18 in Minneapolis.
Andy Clayton-King | AP

Runners heading for the Twin Cities Marathon and the shorter 10-mile race between Minneapolis and St. Paul say they'll receive a rude welcome at the start. 

The new Vikings stadium — and its indoor bathrooms — won't be open to runners before the race, owing to the National Football League's security policy.

In a way you could blame the PGA, which picked Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska to host the Ryder Cup. Even though the tournament just ended, it continues to affect the fall sports schedule.

The Vikings, for instance, played the Giants in Minneapolis Monday night to avoid the Ryder Cup's final round on Sunday. The Twin Cities Marathon moved back a week for the same reason.

Serkalem Abraha of Ethiopia
Serkalem Abraha of Ethiopia, the women's winner, crosses the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon in St. Paul last year.
Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP file

But now that has raised another conflict. The Vikings will be kicking off a noon game with the Houston Texans just hours after the marathon starts. So the stadium will be closed before the race.

"It really becomes a security issue," said Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson. "The NFL has a lockdown procedure in place, that takes place the night before a game."

That generally wasn't a problem in the Metrodome. Only one recent Vikings home game has been played on marathon Sunday, a mid-afternoon game against Tennessee in 2012, that also predated the most recent NFL security push. Only seven other NFL games were played in the Metrodome on the same day as the marathon, all before the terror attacks in 2001, and all with 1 p.m. kickoffs.

But it's a new stadium and a new era.

For marathoners, that means after two years of construction when they had to huddle in chilly downtown bus stops before the start of the race, they'll be on the outside looking in, even after U.S. Bank Stadium is finished.

Marathoner Suzanne DeFoe, a software trainer from St. Paul, says she is irked that the building initially referred to as the People's Stadium won't be open to the most participatory of sporting events.

"This is my seventh Twin Cities [Marathon]," DeFoe said, "and for five of them, I was able to take shelter in the Metrodome, and it was wonderful. Because it's warm. It's lit."

DeFoe is starting an online petition, hoping to register runners' unhappiness that the stadium will be standing empty while thousands are outside.

Both the Vikings and marathon officials say they're sorry it worked out this way.

Race organizers hope the marathon and the NFL will be able to accommodate each other in the future.

And on the bright side, says Mike Logan of the nonprofit Twin Cities in Motion, the new Commons park and the stadium plaza at the start of the race will be some consolation.

"It is stunning to think what having 22,000 people down there, ready to start those races is going to look like now that it doesn't look like a construction zone anymore. It should be really, really good."

The 35th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon starts at 8 a.m. The 10-mile race starts an hour earlier on Sunday morning.