By Joe Perovich | KFAN.com
The Minnesota Vikings will open the 2014 NFL preseason Friday night against the Oakland Raiders at their temporary home for the next two seasons, TCF Bank Stadium.
Gophers Associative Athletic Director Scott Ellison met with the media on the field Wednesday afternoon to discuss both the accommodations made for the Vikings and the changes to the stadium.
Ellison said the overall price for the project, which included new bleachers, adjustments on and under the field, storage and more, was “about $5 million”.
The Vikings will cover the entirety of the price.
“We started the fieldwork right after the spring game in April … we put new turf down, and the new turf has permanent marking for media lines, out-of-bounds line, sideline hashes, player bench areas … and the end zones too. Otherwise, everything else is getting painted. So we’re painting on pro hashes, pro numbers for the Vikings … [and they] painted their Norseman out at midfield.”
In both end zones, the word ‘Minnesota’ is already painted and printed in the turf. The text is purple with white border, as it will be for every Vikings game at TCF Bank Stadium this season. When the stadium crew makes preparations for Gophers football games, the white border will remain, but the purple text on Minnesota will be scrubbed out and colored gold.
“Then of course, we’ll paint our block ‘M’ at the middle of the field,” Ellison said. “[Then] we’ll paint the college hash marks and college numbers for our games as well.”
A variable that’ll affect the Vikings more than the Gophers are the heating coils installed in the off-season beneath the field’s surface.
“There’s plastic tubing underneath the field now … 38 miles worth. In the back of the stadium, we’ll have a heating plant where we’ll heat glycol, and we’ll pump glycol through the field at about 80 degrees. That’ll heat the field up. It’s not a snow melt system, but it definitely will keep the grass from going down into the ground and freezing into the ground in late November and early December games.”
When the Vikings leave after the 2015 season, the heating coils will remain.
Fans that hope to come early to observe the changes on their own accord can begin arriving at 3 p.m., Ellison said.
At 7 p.m., when the ball leaves the tee, the Vikings and the Gophers will have officially begun their two-year tenure as housemates.