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Vikings will open at home sans fans

By Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio News

The Minnesota Vikings said Tuesday they aren’t going to have fans for at least the first two home games of this season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The team had hoped to have about 20 percent of the stadium’s 66,000 seats full, but health officials wouldn’t approve the plan, according to Vikings vice president Lester Bagley. He said about 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams are also forgoing fans, at least for the start of the season.

Current state guidelines restrict indoor venues to 250 people. The team said it isn’t practical to open the stadium for only a few hundred fans.

The fan ban affects games scheduled at U.S. Bank Stadium against Green Bay on Sept. 13 and Tennessee on Sept. 27.

Bagley said the team is still hoping to bring fans in later. After two September games, the Vikings won’t have a home game until the 6th week of the season.

“[We’re] kind of zeroing in on the Atlanta game on Oct. 18 to see if we can bring some fans into the stadium. But we have some work to do, this is a collaborative process,” he said. “I think Dr. Fauci said, when the virus permits it, we will make it happen.”

Bagley said there are people that want to attend games, despite COVID-19.

“About 60 percent of our season ticket members opted out so they either took her cash refund for this year or moved their ticket payment to next season, but that still leaves 40 percent of our our base that wants to come to games so there is a demand,” he said

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday that players will do the best they can without a boost from the sometimes very loud hometown crowd. The NFL is allowing some sound effects, including crowd noise and Zimmer said the team will practice at U.S. Bank stadium next week to get used to the setting.

“Actually what we’re going to do is play one quarter as a home team and one quarter as a visiting team so that we can kind of get a little feel on both sides of the ball, as far as the crowd noise,” Zimmer said.