Can TCF Bank Stadium be ready for Bears-Vikings?
Vikings badly want to play in Minneapolis to culminate weekend celebrating 50-year anniversary of franchise.
Members of the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders perform while playing the New York Giants at Ford Field. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images / December 13, 2010)
NFL officials inspected the stadium, which is blanketed in snow, Wednesday. The main issue is the field is frozen and covered by a layer of ice. Removing the ice could damage the FieldTurf surface.
"I would say there will be a game here Monday night," Scott Ellison, the Gophers' associate athletic director, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The school is soliciting volunteers to help clear snow from the stadium, which seats 50,000, making it considerably smaller than the 64,000-seat Metrodome. More snow was forecast overnight. Another issue is water pipes in the stadium, which have been turned off since November. The Vikings badly want to play the game in Minneapolis because Monday is the culmination of a weekend celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the franchise.
Other dome stadiums have been mentioned as possibilities, including stadiums in Detroit and Indianapolis. Although they don't have final say, the Vikings logically would be opposed to both options and even St. Louis because they know the stadiums would be filled with huge pro-Bears crowds. One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said if the game isn't played in Minnesota the likely destination is Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
While it's a hot-button topic, players have a mercenary attitude.
"That doesn't matter," defensive end Israel Idonije said. "Wherever it is, if it's in the parking lot, we'll both be on the same parking lot playing and both teams have to adjust."
Should be snap decision: Special teams coordinator Dave Toub presented Pat Mannelly with a full-size silver helmet to recognize his place on the USA Football/NFLPA All-Fundamentals Team Wednesday at Halas Hall.
"He's the machine that makes the whole thing work," Toub said of the 13 year veteran who's a model of consistency. "The field goal operation and the punt operation."
Mannelly, 35, is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent. If the Bears don't sign him to an extension in the next two weeks, he can depart unless the team places the franchise tag on him.
If long snappers can be franchise tagged — the Raiders did that with Jon Condo — they should get a place in the Pro Bowl. As it stands, coaches select long snappers if needed.
"When I first started in the league there were maybe 15, 16 strictly long snappers," Mannelly said. "Now it has become a specialized position. It is a position that should be recognized and voted on."
Extra point: The Bears held a walk-through Wednesday and will return to practice Thursday.