Ice Bowl II? Vikings vs. Bears in rare outdoor home game

The NFL is preaching player safety, so how is the Vikings vs. Bears game outdoors – with wind chill predicted to be below zero – the smartest idea? While purists love 'real man' football played outdoors, Monday's Ice Bowl conditions may dictate future decisions on a possible new stadium in Minnesota.

Craig Lassig/AP
Workers shovel the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, in advance of the Monday night matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.

Monday night in Minnesota looks to be a cold one. According to the National Weather Service, conditions at game time are going to be anything but pleasant. With a low of 10 degrees and a 20 percent chance of snow, the debate over playing in a dome versus battling the elements rages.

Will this be Ice Bowl II?

The original Ice Bowl featured the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. Played at Lambeau Field on Dec. 31, 1967, the temperature at game time registered a numbing 13 degrees F. below zero, with the Packers winning the NFL championship title. Packer fans to this day relish their reputation as a hearty bunch who shrug off warnings of frostbite to witness the game played in whatever weather Mother Nature whips up.

After all, this is a cold weather sport

The Vikings desperately want to play Monday's game in Minnesota. This weekend marks the 50-year anniversary of the franchise. After considering other neutral sites, Monday's game will be played outdoors at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. This will be the Vikings first outdoor home game since Dec. 20, 1981, 29 years to the day. This will also be the 100th matchup between and the Vikings and the Bears. Playing football outdoors is nothing new for long time Viking fans. Before the Metrodome was built, the Vikings played outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium, just outside Minneapolis in Bloomington, from 1961 to 1981.

The Vikings are in the middle of a drive for a publicly subsidized stadium to replace the aging Metrodome. The question is dome or no dome. Viking fans and taxpayers will have witnessed both scenarios in this one season.

Workers have spent days shoveling out the University of Minnesota stadium. Heaters will be used to warm the field and a thermal tarp will cover it until game time. With the league in the midst of a campaign to reduce head injuries, a frozen surface could put those efforts in jeopardy.

Will purists be swayed in their belief that football should be played outdoors, no matter what the conditions? Or will fans of football who believe that the game is at its' best when inclement conditions are taken out of the equation be even more resolute in their beliefs?

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