The NFL’s premier game this week would move across the country to Minneapolis if damage from Hurricane Ian forces the league to relocate it from Tampa, Fla.
US Bank Stadium would host the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in primetime Sunday if “public safety efforts” need to be the priority, an NFL spokesman said.
Jeff Miller, NFL senior vice president of health and safety policy, said Wednesday that the rematch of Super Bowl LV in 2021 is still scheduled for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa but would be moved to Minneapolis if necessary.
“It’s literally a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour consideration and conversation with all of the affected parties, state and local authorities, disaster relief agencies and the participating clubs — as well as the Vikings,” he said.
US Bank Stadium’s 67,000-plus seats will be available because the Vikings will be far away, playing the New Orleans Saints in London early Sunday morning Central time.
The location of the Kansas City-Tampa Bay game hinges on the scope of the destruction and disruption from the high-powered and slow-moving hurricane that made landfall Wednesday in southwest Florida. Ian, which struck as a Category 4 hurricane, is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States.
Miller said the first priority is to ensure the league doesn’t do anything to “negatively impact public safety efforts in the affected areas.”
Gov. Tim Walz said his staff has been in regular contact with US Bank Stadium officials about the possibility of the game moving here “and all preparations are being made for that.”
“We stand ready to help our neighbors,” he said.
The prospect of moving the game from Tampa to Minneapolis first surfaced publicly online early Tuesday and enthusiasm was high because of the teams and players involved.
The game would be a matchup of two of the NFL’s biggest stars: quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. In their Super Bowl matchup, the Brady-led Buccaneers beat Mahomes and the Chiefs in Tampa.
John Drum, general manager for ASM Global, which runs US Bank Stadium operations, has said staff and the building can be ready for Sunday night.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said the league always has contingency plans and has been in contact with the teams and local officials. But it’s in no rush to make a call.
“We could make decisions later in the week, including on Friday,” he said.
The NFL is familiar with US Bank Stadium operations and staff because the building hosted Super Bowl LII in 2018. Brady played in that game, too, as the losing quarterback for the New England Patriots.
The NFL has moved games for weather reasons before, but the notice will be significantly shorter this time. With 10 days notice last year, the NFL moved the New Orleans Saints’ home opener against the Green Bay Packers to Jacksonville, Fla., because of Hurricane Ida. The NFL has not announced ticket sales plans for this Sunday night’s game if it is moved.
Tickets to the Jacksonville game were sold through Ticketmaster with priority going to season-ticket holders for the Saints, who were the home team. Announced attendance at the game at TIAA Bank Field was 35,242; the stadium seats 67,164.
In December 2010, a Vikings game with the New York Giants was moved from Minneapolis to Detroit when the Metrodome roof collapsed during a blizzard. Tickets for that game were free.
US Bank Stadium is generally sold-out for Vikings games. Despite the star quarterbacks, unique opportunity and relatively short drive from Kansas City, a sell-out Sunday for the two visiting teams would be unlikely.
Staff writers Ben Goessling and Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report.